Spinal cord injury affects approximately 20,000 Australians. Each year, there are an additional 300 new cases. The cost of spiral cord injuries can be overwhelming for families. These costs tend to be ongoing expenses each year, making it difficult for families to overcome.
What Are The Costs For Australians With A Spinal Cord Injury?
In the Australian research in 2005 entitled “Long Term Care – Actuarial Analysis on Long-Term Care for the Catastrophically Injured.”, states that estimated costs per year for an Australia who is a ventilator-dependent tetraplegic can add up to approximately $284,000. For a non-ventilator-dependent tetraplegic individual, the costs are about $197,000 per year.
These figures are also supported by the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare in 2006. It is also important to note that these figures allow for attendant care and equipment only after hospitalization and do not include any medical or ancillary treatment (Cripps, 2006a, p1).
With a large number (25%) of Australians of the age of 15 to 24 years suffering from a spinal cord injury, the lifetime costs can add up. For instance, the average cost of $200,000 per year can be magnified over 70 years, costing approximately 14 billon dollars, for one person’s care, excluding medical and ancillary costs.
Types of Expenses
The report entitled ‘The economic cost of spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury in Australia’ published in 2009 outlines the types of expenses that result from spinal cord injuries. Each person who has suffered from a spinal cord injury will be affected differently. Therefore, some Australians may require more of one type of expense than others. For instance, if the individual suffered major brain injury as a result of an accident.
Equipment and modifications– equipment and home modifications for daily living. This is important to increase the wellbeing and lifestyle of an individual with a spinal cord injury and to also minimise and avoid any medical complications, injuries or accidents that can occur.
Long term care costs– assisted accommodation, respite care, personal assistance and general living expenses are required full time for individuals with a spinal cord injury.
Productivity losses– unable to seek employment or find continue with previous employment can be a difficult experience. Many individuals heavily rely on government support services and pension.
Other costs– any ongoing travel costs, aids or other equipment that is required for the individual to continue living. This could mean therapy, rehabilitation or other services that can increase an individual’s independence and mobility.
Ways To Pay For The Medical Costs
There are a number of support services that are free of charge, or subsidized by the Australian government. Australians who have suffered from spinal cord injuries can also ask assistance through Medicare and Centrelink. These two government support services provide individuals will reduced medication costs, rebates for therapies and also fortnightly allowance that can be used for everyday living expenses.
However, in most circumstances, families will find that these options only cover a small amount of costs. Families can also try crowdfunding or fundraising for these expenses. Similar to medical fundraising, crwodfunding is based online and allows individuals to set goals to raise a certain amount in order to cover medical costs and living expenses due to a spinal cord injury. This has proven to be an effective way to reach out to family and friends for assistance and to get the funds needed to cover the burden of disease that can occur.