To assess the two opposing effects of alcohol tax policy interventions (tax rate increase in 2002 and decrease in 2009) on hospitalization in monetary terms of alcohol-attributed diseases (AADs) in Taiwan.
An interrupted time-series analysis.
Admissions data from 1996 to 2010 were retrieved from the National Health Insurance Research Database claims file and analysed in this study. Data for 430,388 males and 34,874 females aged 15 or above who were admitted due to an AAD were collected. An interrupted time-series analysis examining the effects of the implementation of alcohol tax policy on quarterly adjusted hospital inpatient charges (HICs) for AADs was employed.
The study showed significant (p < 0.001) changes in the adjusted HICs for AADs in 2002. Quarterly HICs showed an abrupt 14.8% decline (i.e., a 1.3 million US dollar reduction) after the first tax policy was implemented. No change in quarterly HICs for AADs was found after the alcohol tax increase. The total cost of treating these AAD inpatients over the course of the 15-year period was 640.9 million US dollars. Each inpatient with an AAD costs an average of $900-$2000 depending on the patient's sex and age with the cost increasing gradually after the two tax interventions. More than 80% of the HICs were attributed to alcoholic liver diseases. Psychoses accounted for 6%–18% of the total HICs. Alcohol abuse and alcohol poisoning accounted for less than 2% of the total HICs.
This study provides evidence that alcohol taxation has resulted in an immediate reduction of medical expenditures related to AADs. The policy of increasing alcohol tax rates may have favourable influences on health care resources related to treating AADs.