Objective To quantify and predict the economic burden of dementia in China for the periods 1990–2010 and 2020–2030, respectively, and discuss the potential implications for national public health policy. Methods Using a societal, prevalence-based, gross cost-of-illness approach and data from multiple sources, we estimated or predicted total annual economic costs of dementia in China. We included direct medical costs in outpatient and inpatient settings, direct non-medical costs – e.g. the costs of transportation – and indirect costs due to loss of productivity. We excluded comorbidity-related costs.
Findings The estimated total annual costs of dementia in China increased from 0.9 billion United States dollars (US$) in 1990 to US$47.2 billion in 2010 and were predicted to reach US$ 69.0 billion in 2020 and US$ 114.2 billion in 2030. The costs of informal care accounted for 94.4%, 92.9% and 81.3% of the total estimated costs in 1990, 2000 and 2010, respectively. In China, population ageing and the increasing prevalence of dementia were the main drivers for the increasing predicted costs of dementia between 2010 and 2020, and population ageing was the major factor contributing to the growth of dementia costs between 2020 and 2030.
Conclusion In China, demographic and epidemiological transitions have driven the growth observed in the economic costs of dementia since the 1990s. If the future costs of dementia are to be reduced, China needs a nationwide dementia action plan to develop an integrated health and social care system and to promote primary and secondary prevention.