THE ECONOMIC BURDEN OF WAD
Little is known about the individual and societal economic burden of WAD. For instance, little is known about the prevalence of long-lasting work disability due to WAD, which probably the most costly part. This burden is probably largely dependent on the legislation in different countries. In 2002, an independent and temporary Commission on whiplash-related injuries was informed in Sweden, initiated by the four largest motor vehicle insurers. The mandate of the 3-year commission was an examination of the problems of WAD from road safety, medical care, insurance and societal aspects. One of the conclusions of the final report was that the yearly cost for society and for the insurance industry was approximately SEK 1.5 billion (US$201 million), while projected costs (i.e. what new cases of WAD arising in a particular year will cost society and insurers by the time the person reaches retirement age) amounted to SEK 4.6 billion (US$648 million). These calculations were based on an annual incidence of 30,000 WAD cases (324 per 100,000 inhabitants) in the year 2002. Since the report’s publication, the number of WAD cases have decreased dramatically to about 16,000 claims in 2008 (173 per 100,000 inhabitants), which, of course, has an impact on the overall costs.
Comparable data has not been found, but there is some evidence from a study that addressed the incidence of WAD in 10 European countries. The administrative data suggests that the total claims cost in Switzerland was 500 million Swiss francs (US$467 million). Switzerland’s population is 80% that of Sweden. Expenditures in addition to the claims cost was not reported in that study.
In summary, as in almost all other diseases and injuries, factors that are involved in the risk or prognosis of WAD are multifactorial and constitute a web of biological, psychological and social components.
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