Alcohol and other drug treatment spending in Australia amounted to $1.2 billion in 2012/2013. While this seems a lot of money, it is just under one per cent of health care spending in Australia. Information about national treatment spending is useful because it: enables analysis of spending between different funding sources; it allows us to compare AOD treatment spending to other areas of health care; and lastly it creates the base for tracking trends over time.
The research by NDARC’s Drug Policy Modelling Program found that of the $1.2 billion, state/territory government funding accounted for half of AOD treatment expenditure (50.7%), with the Commonwealth funding just under a third (31.4%) and the private sector just under a fifth (17.8%). This balance between the two levels of government spending for AOD treatment differs from the total health care spending, where the Commonwealth makes a largest proportional contribution.
Community based treatment accounts for over half of the treatment spending with the majority of that funded by states and territories. Public hospitals account for around 15 per cent of AOD treatment spending and private hospitals around 10 per cent.
Professor Alison Ritter who led the research said that the higher proportion of spending in AOD treatment programs outside hospitals is consistent with the community-focused models of care for AOD treatment.
Professor Ritter said that the analysis does not tell us whether the spending amount is enough, but if one assumes that healthcare resources should in some way be distributed according to the weight of the burden of disease, then AOD treatment should represent about 1.9% of the total healthcare spending, which would justify doubling the current expenditure.
For more information on methodology, results and a detailed discussion, click here.