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In addition to illness, pain and disability, chronic diseases are also a significant economic burden, both on those who suffer from them and for the wider community. An estimate of this economic burden is available from the AIHW disease expenditure database, where information on expenditure in various parts of the health system is compiled and then allocated to specific diseases.

According to this estimate, total health expenditure in Australia in 2000-01 was $60.9 billion, of which $49.2 billion can be allocated as recurrent expenditure on various diseases and conditions. The twelve chronic diseases covered in this web site accounted for $11.0 billion, or 22.4% of the total allocated expenditure. Oral health expenditures were highest for this group, at $3.4 billion, or 6.9% of the total allocated expenditure (Figure 1). Expenditure on CHD came to $1.5 billion (3%); osteoarthritis, depression and stroke each accounted for about $1 billion (2%) of the total.

The expenditure on each chronic disease partly reflects the use of hospital and GP (included here as 'out of hospital medical') services, reported elsewhere on this web site. Hospital services are a major component of the expenditure on CHD, osteoarthritis, kidney disease, COPD, colorectal cancer and lung cancer. GP services are a significant proportion of the expenditure on depression, asthma and Type 2 diabetes.

Most of the expenditure on oral health also was for out-of-hospital services, mainly dental services in this case. Pharmaceuticals were an important area of expenditure for CHD, depression and asthma. while aged care homes (included here with 'other') were significant for osteoarthritis, stroke and osteoporosis.

Figure 1: Health expenditure on chronic diseases, by area of expenditure, 2000-01

Health expenditure on chronic diseases

* Other includes areas of allied health services, aged care homes, research, and community mental health services for depression.

Source: The AIHW disease expenditure database.


  1. For further information on the methodology of health expenditure estimation, see the AIHW publication Health system expenditure on disease and injury in Australia 2000-01 (second edition).
  2. For further information on the disease codes used in estimating expenditure, go to Disease codes used for health system expenditure .
  3. For detailed information on expenditure areas, go to Expenditure areas.
  4. For further information, see Expenditure and Burden of disease.