Women incur significant out-of-pocket expenses for managing diabetes, finds study

Women with diabetes incur significant out-of-pocket expenses to manage their health, with the costs rising the longer they have the disease, a new study has found.

Researchers at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the University of South Australia found middle-aged and older women spend almost $500 a year from their own funds, visiting a diverse range of health services, to manage their diabetes.

“Our findings were that most women (88.3 per cent) consulted at least one health care practitioner in the previous 12 months for their diabetes, including medical doctors, allied health practitioners and complementary medicine practitioners, spending on average $492.60 per woman a year,” said Distinguished Professor Jon Adams, deputy head of the School of Public Health at UTS.

Our analysis suggests approximately $252 million is spent annually on out-of-pocket expenditure for diabetes management by Australian women aged 50 years and over. The results of this study provide important insights regarding public and private health care use by middle-aged and older Australian women living with diabetes.”

Jon Adams, Distinguished Professor and Deputy Head, School of Public Health, UTS

The research team said the economic burden placed on these women warrants further investigation to understand how health care services (and the integration of such services) can better address their biopsychosocial needs.

However, the researchers said the economic burden of self-care of chronic illness by individuals and households is often overlooked in Australia in favor of analyses that center on the macro-economy and the cost to government.

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease associated with impaired glucose tolerance. Poor management of diabetes can result in serious health complications and physical disability, contributing further to the overall burden of the disease. More than 12 per cent of Australian women aged 50 years and older have diabetes type 1 or type 2.

The utilization of public and private health care among Australian women with diabetes: Findings from the 45 and Up Study, by Jon Adams, Erica McIntyre, Amie Steel, Brenda Leung, Matthew Leach, David Sibbritt, is published in the journal PLOS One.

Distinguished Professor Jon Adams is available for interview: +61 404 933 790

Journal reference:

Adams, J., et al. (2021) The utilisation of public and private health care among Australian women with diabetes: Findings from the 45 and Up Study. PLOS ONE. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0255573.


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