What is the cost of Parkinson’s disease on the Australian health system?

What is the cost of Parkinson’s disease on the Australian health system?

The second most common neurological condition in Australia, Parkinson’s disease incurs an astronomical annual cost to the Australian health system. The disease itself is a chronic and progressive condition that cannot be cured and is associated with significant expenses such as lost productivity to the system.

Many of these individuals are elderly citizens and the expectation for the disease is expected to increase with the aging population. That is not to say that younger individuals are free of the PD stigma. While 80% of PD sufferers are above 65 years of age, the remaining percentage affects the younger generation, with PD affecting many in the working age of 15-64 years old.

There are various factors that come into play when costs incurred for PD are calculated. For instance, the condition affects many elderly people and as such they required aged care. The cost of placing such individuals in nursing homes as a result of functional impairments, dementia, incontinence, and related drug complications is reported to be $236 million in all. Individually, the cost per person comes to $4,312 and overall $43,136 for those placed in aged care.

Drug treatments for PD patients amount to a staggering 61 million or $1115 per person. This includes over the counter drugs, non-subsidised prescription drugs and others listed on the PBS and PRBS.

PD patients undergoing treatment may be registered as either inpatients or outpatients. For those seeking treatment, hospital visits for the purpose of diagnosis, hospital stays due to treatment of falls, depression, gastrointestinal issues resulting from or associated to the use of PD medication cost the health system 61.3 million overall or $1,119 per person with PD.

In addition to hospital visits and stays, other health system costs include expenses incurred through general practitioner services, consultations with out of hospital specialists such as neurologists as well as other health practitioners like speech therapists, clinical psychologists, physiotherapists and specialist PD nursing staff. For some patients, additional services such as imaging and pathology may also be used which add to the cost of PD treatments.

Along with medical services, there is also a lot of research going on in both the applied and developmental fields that is costing the government 18.7 million, or $341 per person. These costs are fluctuating based on age because as the population ages, the cost in aged care will also increase.

To get an estimate, the health costs incurred by PD in Australia have been evaluated at 478.5 million in 2011. These health system costs have been reported to have gone up by a staggering 39% since 2005. Of this total figure, 42% was used on treating female patients with PD while the remaining 58% was spent caring for male PD patients. Of these most of the cost was incurred on elderly patients while 15% was used taking care of patients aged 65 and under.

The cost that was incurred per PD patient was estimated to be $7,599 annually; once again a figure 19% higher than in 2005. Of all the elements, residential care was the biggest cost component with hospital costs rating in second and pharmaceuticals coming in third.


1) Living with Parkinson’s Disease – update: http://www.parkinsonsnsw.org.au/assets/attachments/documents/AE-Report_2011.pdf