The Economic Burden of Cancer in Korea in 2009


Background: Cancer imposes a significant economic burden on individuals, families and society. The purposeof this study was to estimate the economic burden of cancer using the healthcare claims and cancer registry datain Korea in 2009. Materials and
Methods: The economic burden of cancer was estimated using the prevalence datawhere patients were identified in the Korean Central Cancer Registry. We estimated the medical, non-medical,morbidity and mortality cost due to lost productivity. Medical costs were calculated using the healthcare claimsdata obtained from the Korean National Health Insurance (KNHI) Corporation. Non-medical costs included thecost of transportation to visit health providers, costs associated with caregiving for cancer patients, and costs forcomplementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Data acquired from the Korean National Statistics Office andMinistry of Labor were used to calculate the life expectancy at the time of death, age- and gender-specific wageson average, adjusted for unemployment and labor force participation rate. Sensitivity analysis was performed toderive the current value of foregone future earnings due to premature death, discounted at 3% and 5%.
Results:In 2009, estimated total economic cost of cancer amounted to $17.3 billion at a 3% discount rate. Medical careaccounted for 28.3% of total costs, followed by non-medical (17.2%), morbidity (24.2%) and mortality (30.3%)costs.
Conclusions: Given that the direct medical cost sharply increased over the last decade, we must striveto construct a sustainable health care system that provides better care while lowering the cost. In addition, acomprehensive cancer survivorship policy aimed at lower caregiving cost and higher rate of return to work hasbecome more important than previously considered.