A 2014 Gallup poll shows that up to 33% of Americans have put off getting medical treatment because of the cost, and that’s not only for non-serious conditions. Whether you believe migraine headaches fall into the serious or non-serious category, it’s frightening to think that one in three sufferers could be going without help
But what’s the real cost of chronic migraines, and how does it add up over the years if you don’t get treatment? Is it worth it to avoid spending money to get the care you need, or are you missing out in the long term?
Regular migraine sufferers report that they lose out tremendously in terms of personal cost. Friendships suffer, you miss important activities like attending children’s sporting activities, academic achievements and other milestones. Family events such as Thanksgiving and holiday dinners become a blur as you stumble through the pain until you can escape and lie down, and there’s always the risk that leisure plans need to be cancelled at the last minute if a headache comes on. The personal costs can be incalculable and there’s no way to get back the time you lose.
Whether you’re self-employed or hold a position in a corporate environment, the cost of taking sick days is high—not only for your company and its bottom line, but for your own career. This report from the Integrated Benefits Institute shows that poor health costs the U.S. economy almost $6 billion annually, and that doesn’t come close to giving workers an adequate number of sick days. If you’re regularly laid up and unable to work because of migraine headaches, your chances of earning a living or holding down a permanent job reduce exponentially. This also severely limits your options for a successful long-term career, unless you get the care you need.
Let’s talk about money for a moment. Most migraine sufferers are familiar with the symptomatic treatments available on prescription or over the counter. The range of options includes:
- NSAIDs and other pain relievers
- Alternative medications
- Stress relief therapy and relaxation techniques
- Clinical / cranial massage therapy
- Neural transmission devices
The problem is, most of these therapies are only partially covered by health insurance, and some of those are subject to fairly low annual limits. If you’ve ever added up the cost of your various migraine treatments for a month or year, you’ll know it can total a substantial amount.
The NIH reports that migraine headaches cost the U.S. up to $17 billion each year, mostly in direct costs such as medications, visits to the emergency room, clinics and medical offices, diagnostic and lab services and management of migraine side effects. So financial cost isn’t limited to the individual patient, but affects the country and the workforce as a whole.
Getting Specialized Treatment
In the long term, it’s worth it to consider undergoing specialized treatment such as surgery, BOTOX® or surgical neurostimulation for your migraines. Sure, there are costs involved, which typically includethe consultation, anesthesia, the procedure and related expenses. In some cases, overnight hospitalization is required to ensure the patient is ready for discharge, but most procedures are done on an outpatient basis. For out-of-state patients, there may be travel and accommodation costs to attend the migraine clinic ofyour choice.
Add up the personal costs and the expenses associated with symptomatic relief for your migraines over the years. Calculate how your migraines affect your life and the cost to you and your family personally, and you’ll get a clearer picture of the value of finally having effective migraine treatment.
Covering the Costs
Most insurance carriers cover all or part of specialized care, and if you opt for the surgical options your plan might cover the bulk of the cost. For outstanding balances and patients without insurance, clinics typically offer a range of self-pay payment options and plans.
Suffering from migraine headaches takes away more than you might think, but specialized treatment such as migraine surgery can give you back your life, your health, family and career—as well as putting money back in your wallet.
Photo by Mislav Marohnić | Used under Creative Commons image attribution license 2.0