Preventable hospitalisations cost the Australian economy billions each year

Richard Laycock 18 September 2017

Doctor speaking with patient

Aussies spent almost 2.4 million days in hospital beds for preventable illnesses.

Australians clogging up the healthcare system with preventable hospitalisations are costing the country $2.3 billion every year, according to an analysis conducted by finder.com.au using data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The analysis found that in 2015-16, of the 10.6 million hospitalisations that year, almost 680,000 were for potentially preventable illnesses such as asthma and dental treatments.

“Preventable hospitalisations put extra strain on the health care system. That’s why we’re focused on helping our members stay healthy through a number of programs such as Victor Chang heart checks, to identify opportunities for early intervention, and free annual dental checks to ensure good long-term oral health," HCF medical director, Andrew Cottrill, told finder.com.au.

These preventable hospitalisations equated to a whopping 2,398,037 preventable days in hospital beds across Australia and an average of 3.9 days in hospital for every Australian.

Kidney or urinary tract infections were the most common cause for people heading to hospital and were responsible for 11% of all preventable hospitalisations.

National preventable hospitalisations

The second most common cause for preventable hospitalisations was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at 10.5% of all cases, followed by dental conditions at 9.9%.

"We encourage and support people to use their health insurance to help them access health care which may lead to early detection of ill health and allow them to seek treatment potentially before it’s too late," an nib spokesperson told finder.

Many health funds offer their members access to broader health cover programs, which can help members live healthier and longer lives. These programs can include stress management courses, exercise classes and health checks.

"We know, for example, that in Australia there are approximately 700,000 avoidable hospital admissions every year. That’s why we offer additional services such as our chronic disease management programs to help our customers manage their health and wellness to eliminate potentially avoidable and costly hospital and acute care episodes,” said an nib spokesperson.

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