Australian report highlights costs of health inequity

The findings of an Australia-first study highlight the costs of health inequity to our society. The NATSEM report, The Cost of Inaction on the Social Determinants of Health, found that if the most disadvantaged Australians had the same health outcomes as the most well-off Australians, then 500,000 people could avoid suffering a chronic illness. This would result in annual health savings of:

  • $2.3 billion in hospital costs;
  • $273 million in Medicare services; and
  • $184.5 million in Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme prescriptions each year.

It would also save the Commonwealth Government $4 billion each year in welfare payments and generate $8 billion in extra earnings for the national economy.

The report calls for Australia to adopt the recommendations of the World Health Organisation to reduce the 'health gap' and address the underlying causes of ill-health through a Health in All Policies (HiAP) approach. These findings support ACOSS's campaign to raise unemployment allowances to address entrenched poverty and exclusion as a health issues as much as an economic issue. NCOSS is having preliminary discussions with the NSW Ministry of Health about possible opportunities to progress a HiAP approach in NSW. The study was undertaken by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) and commissioned by Catholic Health Australia.

DownloadThe Cost of Inaction on the Social Determinants of Health (June 2012)