Researchers have assessed the costs of 144 diseases. Mental health and dementia are among the diseases that incur the highest costs.

Dementia is the disease that costs the most, according to a new study

Researchers have assessed the costs of 144 diseases. Mental health and dementia are among the diseases that cost the most.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Norwegaian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), the University of Oslo, and the University of Washington in the USA.

“It is useful to know the costs of various diseases, while also emphasising that spending a lot of money on certain diseases can indeed be a proper prioritisation,” first author Jonas Minet Kinge says in a press release (link in Norwegian).

He is a senior researcher at the NIPH and professor of health economics at the University of Oslo.

Norway is one of the countries that use the most money on health services per person, according to the OECD-survey Health at a Glance.

Highest for women

In 2019, health expenditures for dementia in Norway amounted to 2.96 billion USD, followed by fall injuries at 1.35 billion USD and intellectual disability at 1.33 billion USD.

The researchers have studied expenses related to treating and managing various diseases. Costs associated with societal factors such as sick leave and disability benefits are not included in this study.

The study also shows gender differences in health expenditures. For women, health expenditures were over 23 per cent higher than for men.

“The primary reason is high expenses for elderly women in nursing homes due to dementia,” Kinge says.

Increases with age

The study also reveals that expenses per person increase with age, especially due to disorders such as dementia.

For young and middle-aged people, between the ages of 15 and 49, nearly half of health expenditures are associated with the treatment of mental disorders.

This is the first time that health expenditures have been calculated for such detailed disease groups, as well as by age and gender. It is also the first time that nursing homes and home care services have been included on an equal footing with other healthcare services.


Translated by Alette Bjordal Gjellesvik.

Read the Norwegian version of this article on


Kinge et al. Disease-specific health spending by age, sex, and type of care in Norway: a national health registry study, BMC Medicine, vol. 21, 2023. DOI: 10.1186/s12916-023-02896-6

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