The number of dementia patients receiving treatments nearly quadrupled and the medical costs for fighting the disease increased seven folds in 11 years, a government report showed.
According to the report by Jeong Myeong-hu, a statistics manager at Medical Information Convergence Department of the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRA), the number of dementia patients went up 3.6 times from 196,725 in 2007 to 711,434 in 2017.
During the same period, the number of treatments for dementia climbed 5.5 folds from 918,782 to 5 million, and the medical costs jumped 7.3 times from 396.5 billion won ($354.7 million) to 2.92 trillion won.
Out of the total expenses for dementia treatments in 2017, 95 percent came from the costs spent on senior patients aged 65 or more. By sex, female patients took up 69.7 percent of the total dementia patients.
Jeong classified dementia into four types – Alzheimer’s disease as F00, vascular dementia as F01, other types of dementia as F02, and unspecified dementia as F03. Among them, cases of Alzheimer’s disease increased faster than others. The number of Alzheimer’s patients rose 5.9 times to 591,010 in 2017 from 98,630 in 2007. The medical expenses for Alzheimer’s surged 12.1 folds to 2.39 trillion won from 196.3 billion won over the cited period.
Alzheimer’s disease ranked first in long-term care expenses in 2017, with the costs being 1.4 times higher than those of cerebral infarction treatments that ranked second.
The number of dementia patients and the related medical expenses are expected to rise continuously. As the nation’s demographic structure changes with the growing senior population, the increase of dementia patients and costs will accelerate,” Jeong said. “We need steady monitoring of dementia and continuous research to prevent and manage the disease.”
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