Zurich releases Cost of Care report on health conditions in Australia

11 June 2024

Zurich Financial Services Australia (Zurich) today released updated analysis on the growing incidence and cost of disease in Australia.

The report, ‘Cost of Care’, analyses and collates publicly available health and economic data for more than 30 major medical conditions – including: mental health; cancer; respiratory and heart disease – comparing prevalence, incidence & survival rates and calculating lifetime & out of pocket cost estimates for many conditions.

The report finds that mental health conditions – including affective disorders, anxiety and substance abuse – were the most prevalent in Australia in recent years, with over 12 million active cases between 2020 and 2022. This is followed by COVID-19, which has seen approximately 11 million reported cases over a similar period.

For cancer, the report finds increasing incidence estimates in eight out of 10 types since 2018, driven by: prostate (+44 per cent since 2018); breast (+14 per cent) and melanoma (+27 per cent). Despite this, most cancer types saw marginally improved survival rates.

Lifetime cost estimates vary by condition, led by spinal cord injury (between $6.8 million and $12.9 million), childhood cancer ($1.09 million) and Motor Neurone Disease ($201,340). Other highly prevalent health conditions recorded costs including $143,000 for diabetes type 1 (lifetime cost) and $41,748 for chronic kidney disease with kidney failure (average cost per year).

Matt Paterson, Chief Claims Officer, Zurich Australia & New Zealand said: “There is a significant financial burden associated with the treatment of certain medical conditions in Australia. Concerningly, many of these are growing in prevalence against a backdrop of increased cost-of-living pressures and issues with access to insurance.”

“As health diagnoses and treatment continue to rapidly advance, this analysis can serve as a useful single source of truth for insurance professionals, financial advisers and the broader community, assisting individuals and families to make informed decisions to improve their collective health and financial resilience.”

“Likewise, this data will play an important role in the continued delivery and ongoing evolution of wellness and rehabilitative health services offered to Zurich’s customers, particularly given the preventable nature of many of these conditions,” Mr Paterson said.

In 2023, Zurich paid more than $1.53 billion* in life insurance claims, with the most claimed conditions being: musculoskeletal at a total of $353 million (representing 34 per cent of all claims); cancer at $473 million (21 per cent); and mental health at $256 million (18 per cent).

‘Cost of Care: Volume 2’ is the second iteration of the report originally released by Zurich in 2018. In addition to updated data, the report includes new analysis for conditions including Motor Neurone Disease, COVID-19 and a section dedicated to infants and children.


*Retail, direct and group insurance customers, inclusive of OnePath

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Zurich Financial Services Australia is a life insurance, commercial insurance and investments specialist that has been participating in the Australian market since 1920. Since its acquisition of OnePath Life from ANZ in 2019, the company provides life insurance to more than 1.5 million Australian customers under both the Zurich and OnePath Life brands.  Further information about Zurich Financial Services Australia is available at www.zurich.com.au.

Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) is a leading multi-line insurer serving people and businesses in more than 200 countries and territories. Founded 150 years ago, Zurich is transforming insurance. In addition to providing insurance protection, Zurich is increasingly offering prevention services such as those that promote wellbeing and enhance climate resilience.

Reflecting its purpose to ‘create a brighter future together’, Zurich aspires to be one of the most responsible and impactful businesses in the world. It is targeting net-zero emissions by 2050 and has the highest-possible ESG rating from MSCI. In 2020, Zurich launched the Zurich Forest project to support reforestation and biodiversity restoration in Brazil.

The Group has about 60,000 employees and is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. Zurich Insurance Group Ltd (ZURN), is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and has a level I American Depositary Receipt (ZURVY) program, which is traded over-the-counter on OTCQX. Further information is available at www.zurich.com.