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Can we afford to be chronically ill?

The spiralling cost of chronic disease will be the focus at today’s Melbourne Economic Forum at Victoria University’s City campus in Flinders Street.

Professor Maureen Rimmer, from the Centre of Policy Studies at Victoria University, who will address the forum, said the economic and human cost of chronic disease can no longer be ignored.

“Australians are living longer but lifestyle-related chronic diseases are now the leading cause of illness, death and disability,” Professor Rimmer said.

“As the cost of health care continues to rise faster than inflation, economic modelling clearly shows how policies to reduce chronic disease can have significant economic benefits,

“Chronic disease reduces our ability to work and treating it is expensive. Today’s findings give a resounding victory to improving health, particularly for older Australians.”

One in five Australians are affected by multiple chronic diseases and nearly 40% aged 45 and over have two or more chronic diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes or cardiovascular disease, recent Australia Institute of Health and Welfare data shows.

A panel of leading economic and social policy experts will today examine Health Reform in the Context of Rising Chronic Disease and Rising Health Costs, in the hope to shed new light on this national issue, and inform policy.

Speakers include:

  • Professor Bruce Rasmussen, Director Centre for Strategic Economic Studies at Victoria University on The Productivity Benefits of Reducing Chronic Disease
  • University of Melbourne’s Professor Allan Fels, Professorial Fellow Melbourne Law School on Preventative Health Policy: The Case of Mental Health
  • Professor Rosemary Calder, Director of the Australian Health Policy Collaboration at Victoria University on Confronting the Challenge of Rising Chronic Disease
  • Professor Anthony Scott from the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research on Federalism, Medicare, Hospital Funding and Chronic Disease
  • Professor Stephen Duckett, Director Health Program at the Grattan Institute on Chronic Failure in Primary Care.

The Melbourne Economic Forum is a joint collaboration between Victoria University and the University of Melbourne. It is run in association with the Australian Financial Review.

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