Area of spending
The areas of spending in disease expenditure analysis include:
- hospital services: $87.9 billion (public and private admitted patient services, public hospital emergency departments and public hospital outpatient clinics)
- primary health care services: $39.7 billion (general practitioner services, allied health services, pharmaceuticals and dental)
- referred medical services: $12.8 billion (include specialist services, medical imaging and pathology (AIHW 2022).
In 2019-20, total dental expenditure was $9.5 billion, 6.8% of the total $140 billion allocated disease expenditure (AIHW 2022).
Explore the data further in Disease expenditure table 1:
- Dental caries: A disease process that can lead to cavities (small holes) in the tooth structure that compromise both the structure and the health of the tooth, commonly known as tooth decay.
- Periodontal disease: Inflammation of the gums and other tissues that attach to and anchor teeth to the jaws, caused by a bacterial infection
Dental disease expenditure data presented in this section are derived from the AIHW Health Expenditure Database. Expenditure is estimated by Australian Burden of Disease Study (ABDS) condition, age group and sex for:
- Public hospital admitted patients
- Public hospital emergency departments
- Public hospital outpatients
- Private hospital services
- Primary health care (general practitioners services, allied health and other services, pharmaceutical benefits scheme and dental expenditure)
- Referred medical service (specialist services, pathology and medical imaging).
All sources of funding, including patient co-payments, are included in expenditure estimates. Dental expenditure is not currently able to be reported by age and sex, except when provided through the MBS or as part of a public or private hospital admission (AIHW 2022).
The total expenditure on oral disorders was $7.8 billion in 2019-20, accounting for 5.54% of spending in all areas of expenditure (hospitals, primary health care, referred medical services).
- Dental expenditure, within the primary health care broad area of expenditure, accounts for most of the spending on oral disorders, $7.0 billion.
- Oral disorders spent in areas other than dental expenditure ($0.8 billion) expenditure was highest for age groups 15-19 years ($80.2 million), 20-24 years ($76.7 million) and 5-9 years ($55.3 million).
- Expenditure was $4.5 billion for dental caries, $2.5 billion for other oral disorders, and $756 million for periodontal disease
- Dental caries ($4.5 billion) had the second highest expenditure among ABDS-listed conditions (excluding all ‘other’ conditions within groups) behind falls ($4.7 billion)
Explore the data using the interactives below.
Disease expenditure interactive 1
This figure shows the oral disorders expenditure by area of expenditure, sex and age. National data is presented for 2019–20.
Disease expenditure interactive 2
This figure shows the health expenditure by burden of disease condition and sex. National data is presented for 2019–20.
Expenditure in hospitals
Hospital services include public and private admitted patient services, public hospital emergency departments and public hospital outpatient clinics.
- Expenditure in hospitals on oral disorders was $639 million in 2019-20, accounting for 0.73% of total hospital expenditure.
- In 2019-20, $438 million was spent in hospitals on other oral disorders. This spending included $208 million in private hospital services.
Expenditure in primary health care
Primary health care services include general practitioner services, allied health services, pharmaceuticals and dental.
- Expenditure in primary health care on oral disorders was $7.1 billion million in 2019-20. As a disease group, Oral disorders accounted for the highest proportion of total spending on primary health care (17.9%) – more than any other disease group.
- In 2019-20, $4.3 billion dollars was spent on dental caries in primary health care. The vast majority of this spending was in dental primary care services ($4.25 billion).
Expenditure in referred medical services
Referred medical services include specialist services, medical imaging and pathology.
- Expenditure in referred medical services on oral disorders was $26 million in 2019-20, accounting for 0.2% of total expenditure in referred medical services.
- In 2019-20, $24 million was spent on referred medical services for other oral disorders. Medical imaging accounted for $10 million of this spending.
Explore the data using the interactive below.
Disease expenditure interactive 3
This figure shows the expenditure on oral disorders by area of expenditure and sex. National data is presented for 2019–20.
Health system spending per case of disease
Total spending across the health system on a particular disease or condition group is one measure of the financial burden due to disease and ill health. However, this does not give an indication of the relative number of people experiencing disease, or the amount spent on treating a single case. Total health spending for a condition may be high because treatments are expensive, or because the number of cases in the community is high (AIHW 2022a).
The expenditure estimates used to derive the spending per case estimates come from Disease expenditure in Australia 2018-19 along with the Australian Burden of Disease Study prevalence estimates for 2018, and include spending on public and private hospitals, PBS pharmaceuticals, MBS services, and dental. This does not include some spending through private providers or the aged care system (AIHW 2022a).
- The average health system spending per case for all oral disorders was $315.
- Health system spending per case due to dental caries was higher for males ($41) than females ($38).
- Health system spending per case due to periodontal disease was higher for females ($12) than males ($9).
- The average health system spending per case for lip and oral cavity cancer was $23,618
- Health system spending per case for lip and oral cavity cancer was $23,707 for females and $21,755 for males.
Explore the data using the interactive below.
Disease expenditure interactive 4
This figure shows the estimates of health system spending per case, by condition and sex. National data is presented for 2018–19.
Health system spending for certain risk factors
Health risk factors are attributes, characteristics or exposures that increase the likelihood of a person developing a disease or health disorder. In many cases, individuals can modify risk factors such as tobacco smoking or alcohol use and they are distinct from other types of risk factors, such as genetic pre-dispositions. Expenditure due to modifiable risk factors in this report refers to health system spending on a burden of disease condition that can be attributed to people having a particular risk factor e.g. history of smoking (AIHW 2022a).
- $31.2 million (42%) of health system spending on lip and oral cavity cancer could be attributed to tobacco use as a risk factor.
- $20.2 million (27%) of health system spending on lip and oral cavity cancer could be attributed to alcohol use as a risk factor.
Explore data further in Disease expenditure table 2
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Disease expenditure in Australia 2019–20, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 25 January 2023.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022a) Health system spending per case of disease and for certain risk factors, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 25 January 2023.