April 27, 2023
Health Care Costs Associated with MS
Summary: CanProCo researchers calculate the annual direct medical costs of multiple sclerosis (MS) in British Columbia, Canada and find it is almost four times greater than for those without MS. Direct medical costs associated with MS are driven primarily by the costs of disease-modifying therapies (DMTs), followed by hospitalizations and then outpatient care (e.g., physician visits). Effective disease management strategies and policies guiding affordability and reimbursement of DMTs will be important in reducing the economic burden of MS and improving the quality of life of people living with MS.
Details: Dr. Larry Lynd (UBC) and team as part of the CANadian PROspective COhort Study to Understand Progression in MS (CanProCo) set out to understand the direct medical costs associated with MS in British Columbia. Direct medical costs are related to patient care such as hospital admissions, physician visits, medical/laboratory testing, and medication costs. Indirect costs of MS were examined in a prior study (refer to here). The research team calculated the average direct medical costs per individual using population-based administrative health data from British Columbia over a 20-year period (between 2001-2020). They identified 17,071 people living with MS and compared them to 85,355 people without MS and calculated the excess direct medical costs of MS.
Results: Researchers found that the annual direct medical cost associated with MS was $8,964 per person – more than three times higher than for individuals without MS ($2,083 per person), resulting in an annual excess health care cost of $6,881 per person. This excess cost of MS was found to be slightly higher for men than women ($644); however, there were no differences in cost between sexes in people ages 45-59 years old. Overall, the annual excess cost of MS decreased with age with those age 60 and older having the lowest excess costs of MS. Medications, specifically DMTs represented 65% of the annual excess cost of MS. Other contributing costs were inpatient care (25%) such as hospitalizations, and outpatient care (10%) such as physician visits costs. Annual excess cost of MS was higher for people with MS treated with a DMT ($13,267) compared to those not taking a DMT ($3,469). However, the annual excess cost of hospitalizations was lower for people treated with a DMT than those not taking a DMT. The researchers note that the cost of DMTs in this study may be an underestimate of true cost.
Impact: The findings of this study provide further insight on the economic burden of MS with DMTs as the major driver of costs. Enhancing affordability and reimbursement of DMTs and further research on effective disease management and treatment strategies will be important to reduce the economic burden of MS on health systems, societies, and individuals while improving the quality of life for those living with MS.