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Keywords:

  • Health;
  • Hospitals;
  • Inequality;
  • Ageing

This study examines the socioeconomic status of NSW hospital patients in 1999–2000 and projects likely hospital costs to 2009–2010. It draws upon unique patient based datasets from NSW public and private hospitals that include hospital separations, as well as the associated treatment costs in each of the four years to 1999–2000. First, we examine whether patients of similar age had similar per patient hospital costs by socioeconomic status. Second, we examine whether patients requiring similar treatment had similar per patient hospital costs by considering patients treated for coronary heart disease. Third, we consider the impact that population ageing and changes in treatment propensities are likely to have on hospital usage and costs by 2009–2010, assuming that no changes occur in per unit treatment costs. Finally, we have estimated the additional impact of rising medical costs on these projections.