Obese Australians costing NDIS millions of dollars each year


Severely overweight people without another primary disability cost the National Disability Insurance Scheme millions more this past financial year.

Severely overweight people who do not have any other primary disability cost the National Disability Insurance Scheme more than $4.5m over the 2020-21 financial year.

In an answer to a parliamentary question on notice about obesity being covered by the scheme, NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds said there were 21 active participants with an NDIS plan who listed obesity as their primary disability as at June 30.

Senator Reynolds said these plans had cost the program at total of $4,576,802 over the 2020-21 financial year.

This is up on 2019-20 when 18 obese people without another primary disability cost the NDIS about $2.4m.

In August, Senator Reynolds declared that elderly, autistic and obese people were contributing to an “unsustainable” rise in the cost of the NDIS, insisting the scheme was “never intended” to serve every Australian living with a disability.

“(The NDIS) was for those who had the most significant and permanent disability, to provide them with the support so that they can live an independent life as possible … but eligibility now, in terms of who can come into the scheme, is quite unclear,” she said.

“There’s now a whole range of people trying to come into this scheme. For example, because they’re obese and they’ve got disabilities from that health condition.”

The NDIS system list of primary disabilities is based on the World Health Organisation’s International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, which lists obesity as a condition.

Senator Reynolds said NDIS supports and payments were not meant to help manage or prevent the medical issues of obesity, but were instead to assist with the functional impacts of the condition.

The NDIS released its annual Financial Sustainability Report on Friday, again stressing the cost of the scheme was rising much faster than anticipated.

“Projections of the number of future participants in the scheme by 2030 are significantly higher than the number of participants estimated by the Productivity Commission in 2017,” the report reads.

Senator Reynolds’ office said people were entering the scheme in higher numbers and transitioning off the scheme in lower numbers than expected.

“It was expected that many participants who received early intervention support would then transition out of the scheme to be supported by mainstream and community services. This is not happening at the rate projected,” the report read.

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