Investing in Need – Cost-effective interventions for eating disorders

In 2014, the Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to undertake a cost benefit analysis of treatment for eating disorders in Australia. The report, Investing in Need- cost effective interventions for eating disorders report, examines the cost-effectiveness of ‘treatment as usual’ versus ‘optimal treatment’ for eating disorders in Australia, using the prevalence trends and costing framework from the 2012 Deloitte Report Paying the Price.

The ‘Investing in Need’ report was launched by The Hon. Sussan Ley, Minister for Health at Parliament House on Monday 2 March 2015


FULL REPORT- Investing in Need: cost-effective interventions for eating disorders report

The ‘Investing in Need’ report has found that optimal treatment interventions for eating disorders are up to 50% more cost-effective than treatment as usual. The optimal treatment model used in the Investing in Need report is based on the work of the National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC) and a Treatment Options report prepared for the Department by Butterfly Foundation, and specific international programs analysed by Deloitte Access Economics.

The analysis in the report is based on the 213,208 newly developed eating disorders cases in 2014. Key findings of the Investing in Need report include:

  • The total cost, if Treatment As Usual occurs, for those who develop an eating disorder in 2014, is equivalent to $103.2 billion(Net present value over 10 years). The total cost, if optimal treatment occurs, for those who develop an eating disorder in 2014, is equivalent to $49.9 billion (Net present value over 10 years).
  • Best practice treatment is up to 50% more cost-effective than standard practice. There is a 5:1 benefit cost ratio for implementing optimal treatment interventions.
  • Under the current system, in any given year, the great majority of people with an eating disorder do not access  treatment. For those who receive treatment as usual, it will be truncated; often hospital based and will not follow through to sustainable recovery. Some with an eating disorder will never recover – one in every ten of those with anorexia will die prematurely. Many will struggle with their disease for decades, and most will face five to ten years with high morbidity.
  • Early intervention in illness and in episode significantly reduces the duration and impact of the illness, and  increases the rate of sustainable recovery.
  • Rolling out a best practice multidisciplinary approach will take five years at a cost of around $2.8 billion. New cases of eating disorders in 2015 and onwards will cost the economy billions of dollars in lost productivity.

Butterfly Foundation is committed to working with the government to correctly (and conservatively) identify the scope of the problem and proactively provide potential answers, together with the economic rationale for taking action.

The Paying the Price report brought to the forefront the high prevalence and socio-economic cost of eating disorders in Australia and the moral imperative to take action. Every Australian who suffers an eating disorder deserves to have access to optimal treatment. The Investing in Need report provides the economic imperative for optimal treatment.

The full report can be downloaded here, or download the executive summary here.