National Drug Strategy
National Drug Strategy

Intergovernmental committee on Drugs working party on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders


Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Australia: An Update

June 2012

10.2 Developing an aggregate cost model

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Both government and non-government costs of FASD can be aggregated from all the costs incurred by individuals. To measure government costs, individual categories of costs incurred by mothers and carers (such as attendance at health services, community services, education, justice services, carer services, accommodation support and income support, etc.) can be defined and measured on a unit basis e.g. the cost of one GP service or one week of public housing, etc. By multiplying each of the unit costs of government services by their number consumed by persons at different levels of FASD severity (‘mild’, ‘moderate’ and ‘severe’) and for different age cohorts, it is possible to calculate the total lifetime case costs of government services. The net case cost of FASD to government will be the excess cost of
FASD per case, relative to individuals in the general population.

To measure the private, non-government costs of FASD it is necessary to model lost workforce and household productivity of people with FASD and their carers, as well as the reduction in their years of life and their diminished quality of life. The amounts that individuals are willing to pay (WTP) to avoid various FASD conditions would capture the monetary cost of both the loss of productivity as well as the emotional cost of FASD attributable to illness and premature mortality. By making assumptions about the value of a healthy life, it is possible to estimate what people are willing to pay to avoid disability associated with varying levels of FASD severity, based upon their departures from full health and their premature death.

The sum of the lifetime government service costs and private costs for Indigenous and non- Indigenous people with FASD and their carers at each level of severity would represent average lifetime case costs. Multiplied by the population of cases for each level of severity, this would represent the dollar burden of FASD to Australia, based upon the cohort for the relevant year. If assumptions were made about the survival of people with FASD, it would be possible to calculate the present value of lifetime costs and the FASD burden.

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