Older Australians paying more to treat high blood pressure

Ageing Australians with hypertension are bearing significant out-of-pocket expenses for treating their condition, according to new research based on longitudinal data from our 45 and Up Study.

Research snapshot

  • Ageing Australians are paying $462 out of their own pocket each year to treat their hypertension
  • Patients are using a wide range of conventional and non-conventional health services and self-care
  • Future interventions may need to consider more cost-effective treatments

Researchers from the University of Technology Sydney used the Sax Institute’s 45 and Up Study to track a group of participants from the 45 and Up Study who reported hypertension.

They found this group was using a variety of health services to control their condition, from practitioner-led health services to complementary medicine and self-care practices – treatment that led to an average $462 in out-of-pocket expenses a year.

Hypertension – also known as high blood pressure – is a major risk factor for chronic conditions such as stroke and heart disease, and effects roughly 1 in 3 Australians over the age of 18.

While many treatment costs are covered by the health system, this research is the first to shed light on the additional treatments that older Australians are paying for themselves.

The study points out that in 2017, roughly 31% of Aussies over the age of 55 had hypertension. Extrapolating from this, the researchers estimated that Australians over 55 may be collectively paying as much as $941 million out of their own pocket each year for hypertensive-related health care.

Lead researcher and Head of School of Public Health, Professor David Sibbritt, says these findings could help improve how patients are supported in the future.

“By raising awareness of the financial burden on hypertensive patients it is hoped that future interventions will consider more cost-effective treatment(s) for hypertension.”

The research drew on the 45 and Up Study, which Professor Sibbritt says provided a good cross-section of the community. “The information we obtained from the 45 and Up Study provided us with a rich source of data that could address numerous health issues and advanced the knowledge in our field.”

Read the full study here.

The 45 and Up Study is the largest ongoing study of healthy ageing in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s made possible thanks to 250,000 dedicated participants across NSW, who are kindly sharing their health information with us to help create a healthier Australia.

Find out how the Study is powering other research into smoking and heart disease, physical activity and mental health.

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