Chronic pain has in the past often been misunderstood. It is not just about inflamed joints or a bad back. Chronic pain affects 3.2 million Australians and it continues to be a huge financial problem for Australians with long term pain.
Chronic pain has been a cause and impact on Australians working and their ability to earn an income. It has also mean that Australians have an endless list of doctors appointments, medications and treatments to pay for.
In the Living Well With Pain Consumer Symposium and Forum held in Canberra
every year during March, everyday Australians highlighted the financial hardship they face due to chronic pain.
Chronic pain is currently still not recognised as a chronic health condition. For many Australians who are faced with this problem everyday, the lack of recognition as a chronic health condition means difficult to receive leave or additional sick leave days from work, to seek assistance in their community, to be covered by Medicare or to receive the Disability support Pension or Carers’ Allowance for assistance.
What Is The Cost Of Treatment And Medication For Chronic Pain Sufferers?
The out of pocket costs of treatment and medication for chronic pain sufferers varies in Australia depending on the type of chronic pain you are suffering from, but also the severity of the pain.
Example of Costs
Here is a real example of an Australian’s experience of chronic pain from the Consumers Health Forum of Australia Health Voices Journal 12 2013 to help you get a better understanding of the types of costs involved.
Harriet, who is 46 experienced an accident. During the first 18 months, Harriet spent $300 each week for a private pain clinic, where she was able to access health professionals such as a physiotherapist, psychologist and exercise therapist. The Private pain clinic was a key component to her recovery from the accident as it assisted her to become independent once again and to recover from the traumatic experience.
Harriet also spent a total of $140 per month on pain medications. Like many Australians, before the accident, Harriet worked full time but only made an average salary that covered her typical costs such as rent, water, electricity, food, transport and small savings. Unfortunately, she was unable to afford private health cover and after the accident, Harriet was unable to continue working.
With the support from her parents managed to cover a total of appropriately $26,000 of the bill and she was admitted to the public hospital pain clinic for further care. This however had a 18 month long waiting list during which negatively impacted the quality of her life. 4 years on, Harriet still requires weekly physiotherapy treatments and participates in hydrotherapy classes.