Structural heart disease is a growing problem in Belgium. It is currently estimated that 240,000 Belgians suffer from structural heart disease and almost half a million people are expected to be affected by these diseases by 2040.
In 2015, the cost of cardiovascular disease to the Belgian economy amounted to 2.421 billion euros. Because the incidence of structural heart disease is directly dependent on ageing, the costs of these diseases will only increase. Despite the rising costs associated with these conditions, a survey published by cardiologists in October 2019 showed that Belgian citizens are insufficiently aware of these problems.
Structural heart disease is often and increasingly linked to loss of function, and this, combined with the old-age dependency ratio which will rise to 38% by 2040, implies higher healthcare expenditure on long-term care and more citizens who do not have the opportunity to contribute to society. In addition, the COVID-19 outbreak has clearly demonstrated the vulnerability of residents with cardiovascular disease as they are more prone to viral infections. It has therefore become even more urgent to tackle this growing problem.
I would like to ask the following questions:
- Can you give an overview of the care costs (direct treatment costs, but also costs for hospital admissions, rehabilitation and care home admissions) of structural heart disease for the last five years? Please provide a total and a breakdown by year, gender, age, type of disorder, and type of care costs.
- Based on these data, do you think it is worth investing more in this patient group, as screening and early treatment is crucial? What needs do you see and what measures are you taking to protect citizens from the risks of structural heart disease?
On 22 September 2020, Minister Maggie de Block responded that the requested information regarding structural heart disease includes a wide variety of sources for collecting said information: direct treatment costs, costs related to hospitalisations, follow-up treatment by various care providers (general practitioners, specialists, physiotherapists, etc.), outpatient rehabilitation and in specific rehabilitation centres, admission to nursing homes, etc. She stated that since several authorities are involved in financing it (federal and regional), it was impossible to provide a full overview of the overall costs. She highlighted that screening and early treatment are important to the government and encouraged action at the regional level as these matters do not fall under federal competences.
The parliamentary question can be found here