Navigation and service

Publication 48 "Costs of illness"

Published in January 2010 as part of the series of Federal Health Reporting ("Gesundheitsberichterstattung des Bundes")

GBE-Booklet 48: Costs of illness. Quelle: © RKI Source: © Robert Koch-Institut

ISBN 978-3-89606-203-1
ISSN 1437-5478
German version only

Costs of illness – Booklet 48 (PDF, 943 KB, File does not meet accessibility standards.)

In 2006, an average of €2,870 per inhabitant was spent in Germany on maintaining the population's health and alleviating the consequences of disease. The amount spent nationwide totalled €236 billion. Another cost aspect to be taken into consideration is the loss to the labour market caused by inability to work, disability and mortality; this came to 4 million work years. Diseases of the circulatory system were the biggest cost factor at €35.2 billion. The second most costly category, at €32.7 billion, was diseases of the digestive system, of which dental caries was the most expensive single item. The chapter with the third highest costs was mental illness and behavioural disorders at €26.7 billion, followed closely by the chapter diseases of the musculoskeletal system.

Medical costs rise rapidly with age. Whereas the costs of illness in 2006 were only €1,260 per person among the under-15s, this figure rose to €2,930 among the 45-64 age group and reached €14,370 per capita among senior citizens aged 85 years and over. Almost half of the costs for the very elderly were incurred in long-term care; yet the latter were only the source of just over one tenth of medical costs when all age groups were taken together.

Women, who make up 51.1% of the population, accounted for 57.6% of the costs of illness. Women are also older than men on average. These demographic differences explain the bulk of the higher medical costs among women. Further aspects to be considered include the costs of pregnancy and birth and a more frequent need for professional nursing care in old age among single women.
Since 2002, the Federal Statistical Office has estimated the overall economic costs of illness and accidents every two years in Germany. The results provide an overview of the extent to which the healthcare system is used; it is broken down by age, sex, type of illness and healthcare facility. This booklet completes a three-part series of economic studies of the healthcare system in the context of Federal Health Reporting.

Date: 08.01.2010