A Deloitte report on the “Hidden Costs of Asthma” has revealed that Australia spends $28 billion per annum. Most of the money spent is related to premature death and disability. Commissioned by the National Asthma Council Australia and Asthma Australia, the report also highlights asthma’s increasing financial impact on families, carers of people with asthma and the government.

Around 2.4 million people, about one in 10 Australians, are affected by this chronic respiratory disease, reports ABC News. Nearly half of 2.4 million people in Australia have poorly controlled asthma.

Deloitte Access Economics has also revealed that a total of $1.2 billion are spent on direct healthcare costs. Asthma’s total cost in 2015 will be $27.9 billion out of which a whopping $24.7 billion accounts for “the burden of disease” in terms of premature death and disability. The rest $3.3 billion is the economic cost.

These costs are calculated using complex formula developed by World Health Organisation, Harvard University and World Bank.

The report suggests asthma has a painful long-term impact on the quality of life even though mortality rates are low, reports News.com.au.

CEO of National Asthma Council Australia, Kristine Whorlow says, “Our challenge is to improve all aspects of asthma care involving general practitioners, practice nurses, pharmacists and, most importantly, people with asthma.”

According to her, asthma needs to be well-managed by taking only prescribed medications, avoiding unnecessary GP and hospital visits, achieving control of the symptoms and thereby enjoying a better quality of life.

She also added, "Investment in research to develop targeted, practical and effective interventions will help reduce the impact of asthma."

Annual health system cost of $1.2 billion and productivity loss of $1.1 billion make up the $3.3 billion economic cost of asthma. The report also revealed that on average, people with asthma report absent from work two days more per year than non-sufferers.

Other costs included financial costs which in turn include $246.4 million for formal care, government programmes, and travel costs plus $635.9 million in efficiency loss. Carers in Australia lost $72.9 million in wages this year.

Mark Brooke, Asthma Australia chief said, “Asthma is estimated to cost Australia $27.9 per annum or nearly $11,740 per person with asthma.”

This is for the first time that a study has attempted to define the indirect costs to the broader asthma community.

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