Report: Total economic burden of MS in U.S. is more than $85 billion

abril 14, 2022
A new report estimates the cost of multiple sclerosis reached $85.4 billion in 2019 in the United States. In addition, when researchers compared people with MS to people without MS they found that excess medical costs represent 74 percent of the overall economic burden of MS. The excess medical cost per person was $65,612 that year.

These costs not only reflect the cost of medications and healthcare. Neurologic disability can prevent people with MS from working or limit employment opportunities and reduce earnings. Also, many family members need to leave their employment to be caregivers. These costs are also reflected in this analysis as nonmedical costs.

For the study, researchers reviewed Medicare and insurance claims to determine direct medical costs, looking at a total of 10,589 people with MS and another 105,893 people without MS matched for age and sex. They calculated the per-person direct medical costs for 2017, 2018, and 2019, and then calculated the average one-year cost. Researchers also surveyed 946 study participants and their caregivers about indirect costs, such as job loss or lost productivity on the job, cost of paid and unpaid caregivers, and home modifications.

Researchers found an estimated total economic burden in the U.S. of $85.4 billion. That amount included $63.3 billion in direct medical costs as well as $22.1 billion in indirect nonmedical costs. Prescription medications were the largest component with $37.9 billion, amounting to about 54 percent of direct medical costs, followed by drugs administered in the clinic with $6.7 billion or about 12 percent, and outpatient care with $5.5 billion or 9 percent.

The average excess medical costs for a person with MS compared to a person without MS was $65,612. That included $35,154 for medication, the largest proportion of this cost. The annual cost for a person taking MS medications ranged from $57,202 to $92,719.

The researchers argue the results suggest a possible role for additional policy initiatives to better support individuals and families affected in terms of providing treatment and long-term care, work-site support, employment, and occupational training. The measures could reduce the economic burden of MS and help improve the lives of those living with MS and their family caregivers.

A limitation of this study was that the indirect and nonmedical costs were estimated using a self-administered survey and relied on respondents’ memory, meaning some costs may have not been accurately reported.

The findings were published in the journal Neurology.
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