Background: While the direct (medical) costs of arthritis are regularly reported in cost of illness studies, the 'true' cost to indivdiuals and goverment requires the calculation of the indirect costs as well including lost productivity due to ill-health.
Methods: Respondents aged 45-64 in the ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers 2003, 2009 formed the base population. We projected the indirect costs of arthritis using Health&WealthMOD2030 – Australia’s first microsimulation model on the long-term impacts of ill-health in older workers – which incorporated outputs from established microsimulation models (STINMOD and APPSIM), population and labour force projections from Treasury, and chronic conditions trends for Australia. All costs of arthritis were expressed in real 2013 Australian dollars, adjusted for inflation over time.
Results: We estimated there are 54,000 people aged 45-64 with lost PLYs due to arthritis in 2015, increasing to 61,000 in 2030 (13% increase). In 2015, people with lost PLYs are estimated to receive AU$706.12 less in total income and AU$311.67 more in welfare payments per week than full-time workers without arthritis, and pay no income tax on average. National costs include an estimated loss of AU$1.5 billion in annual income in 2015, increasing to AU$2.4 billion in 2030 (59% increase). Lost annual taxation revenue was projected to increase from AU$0.4 billion in 2015 to $0.5 billion in 2030 (56% increase). We projected a loss in GDP of AU$6.2 billion in 2015, increasing to AU$8.2 billion in 2030.
Conclusions: Significant costs of arthritis through lost PLYs are incurred by individuals and government. The effectiveness of arthritis interventions should be judged not only on healthcare use but quality of life and economic wellbeing.