STUDY OBJECTIVES--Studies estimating the cost of specific illnesses do not generally take into account the fact that health care costs would have been incurred in the absence of the disease of interest. The goal of this study was to develop a method of estimating age specific baseline health care costs. These costs were calculated for Australian men, and their magnitude was compared with the costs of caring for men with HIV infection. DESIGN--Information about health service usage was obtained from the 1989-90 national health survey and linked with data on the costs of services to obtain average monthly costs for individual and total health services. SETTING--The Australian community. PARTICIPANTS--Average total health service costs per man per month were $103 (Australian). Hospital admissions comprised approximately 40% of these costs and casualty/outpatient visits, consultations with a doctor, and prescribed medication comprised 10%, 13%, and 12%, respectively. Costs increased with age, from around $60 per month for men aged 20-39 years to $213 per month for men aged 60 and over. CONCLUSION--Baseline costs comprised around 18% of health care costs for men with asymptomatic HIV infection, but less than 1% of costs for men with AIDS. These estimates provide an essential baseline for determining the costs attributable to specific diseases.
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