Multiple Sclerosis otherwise referred to as MS, has been described as a progressive, chronic disease of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). MS is most common in young to middle aged persons, where average onset is 20 to 40 years old. In 2010, there are 21,200 Australians living with MS. 70% of which are female.
The Financial Cost of MS
MS has a major impact on Australian health and is a disease that inflicts a substantial burden on patients living with MS.
To date, there is no cure for MS. However, treatment and medication have been available to help individuals with MS have a higher quality of life. These include:
• Immunotherapy drugs (injections or infusions);
• Methylprednisolone (steroids) for the treatment of a MS relapse;
• Immune suppressant drugs;
• Specific drugs for symptomatic relief;
• Physiotherapy, and
• Alternative therapies / natural therapies.
When we assess the cost of MS, we look at not only the physical, but also mental, social and ‘quality of life’ costs.
“MS tends to strike people in their most productive years, impacting on careers, relationships, family, and social life”
According to MS Australia, the latest figures in 2010 found that an Australian person suffering from MS costs on average AUD48,945 per year. Depending on the severity of the disease, the cost of MS varies. For instance, in serve cases, MS can cost up to $65,000 per person on an annual basis.
This accounted for the following types of costs:
1) Direct costs – personal (loss of employment/income, reduced work hours, absence from work, early retirement and premature death, car/home alterations, treatment, medication)
2) Direct costs – community / government (hospital stays, specialist equipment, health professionals, private health care)
3) Nursing home and equivalent costs (accommodation)
4) Informal Care (carer or cost of partner/loved one caring full-time)
5) Indirect costs