The Economic Costs of Health Service Treatments for Asbestos-Related Mesothelioma Deaths

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences . 2006 Sep;1076:871-81. [Link]

Andrew Wattersona,b, Tommy Gormana,c, Cari Malcolma,b, Mavis Robinsond and Matthias Becke

a Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group, University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA Scotland, United Kingdom
b Public Health Research Group, Department of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA Scotland, United Kingdom
c West Dunbartonshire Council: Welfare Rights Representation Unit, West Dunbartonshire, G82 3PU Scotland, United Kingdom
d Nurse advisor formerly with the Macmillan Mesothelioma Information Project, LS1 3EB Leeds, England, United Kingdom
e Professor of Public Sector Management, Department of Management Studies, York University, YO1Ø 5DD York, England, United Kingdom


This article explores the complex and neglected picture of occupational and environmental disease healthcare costs specifically relating to asbestos. Diagnosed mesothelioma cases in Scotland in one calendar year were used to investigate the subject in greater depth. Data from UK sources on asbestos disease types recorded in 2000 and their disease treatment costs were obtained. Acute care economic costs of these diseases are estimated. One hundred and twenty diagnosed, recorded, and treated cases of asbestos-related diseases occurred in 2000 in Scotland. Mesothelioma accounted for 100 cases and directly cost Scottish National Health Service hospitals an estimated £942,038. The estimated UK figure in 2000 was at least £16,014,646 because official figures for diagnosed and recorded deaths from mesothelioma are running at over 1700 a year with rises predicted for 2010 of 2000 deaths. By 2003, 50,000 people in the UK had died from diagnosed and recorded mesothelioma since records began. Earlier disease treatment costs would have been significantly lower than those in 2000 but, at 2000 prices, cost to the UK was roughly £471,019,000 in acute hospital expenditure. Figures for primary care costs, including caregiver costs, are incomplete or unknown. These disease costs are substantial and have some international generalizability. Treatment patterns and costs vary greatly. Many lung cancer cases due to asbestos exposure occur globally for each mesothelioma case. Hence figures provided in this article are certain to be gross underestimates of the total health service and personal economic costs of asbestos illness and treatment in Scotland.