Chronic kidney disease last year was Taiwan’s costliest disease, with the National Health Insurance system paying NT$53.3 billion (US$1.8 billion) in fees related to it, the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) said.
The top five costliest diseases funded by the system last year also includes type 2 diabetes (NT$30.8 billion), gingivitis and periodontal disease (NT$18 billion), tooth decay (NT$16.4 billion), and primary hypertension (NT$14 billion), NHIA data showed.
Rounding out the top 10 are anti-tumor treatments in hospitals (NT$13.4 billion), including radiotherapy and chemotherapy; respiratory failure (NT$12.5 billion); chronic ischemic heart disease (NT$12.2 billion); schizophrenia (NT$1.15 billion); and malignant tumor of the bronchi or lung (NT$11 billion).
More than 397,000 people last year sought treatment for chronic kidney diseases, including more than 92,000 people who received dialysis treatment, marking a record high, the data showed.
National Taiwan University Hospital nephrologist Chiang Chih-kang (姜至剛) yesterday said that Taiwan has one of the highest prevalence and incidence rates of kidney disease in the world, and the incidence rate in people aged 65 or older is increasing.
Kidney function declines with age in almost everyone by an average of 1 percent per year after the age of 40, so a person’s kidney function could have declined by 40 percent by the time they are in their 80s or 90s, he said.
However, Chiang said that many risk factors cause kidney function to decline faster, including diabetes, drug use or long-term exposure to air pollutants.
About 46 percent of people who are on dialysis have diabetes, usually with poor glycemic control, he said, adding that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have long been regarded as dangerous for people who have chronic kidney disease.
Heavy metal substances or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in particulate matter can also damage kidneys when inhaled, he said.
NHIA data showed that the highest average medical fee per person was for respiratory failure, which cost the healthcare system about NT$12.5 billion to treat 41,000 patients, at about NT$302,000 per person.
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