No Insurance Often Means Substandard Migraine Treatment

by Teri Robert, Lead Expert

People with Migraines face many challenges. That should go without saying. It's especially disturbing when insurance, or lack thereof, makes living with Migraine disease even more burdensome.

A new study published in the April 13, 2010, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology verifies what Migraineurs have long known... People with no health insurance are less likely than the privately insured to receive proper treatment for their Migraines.

The Study

Study objective:

"To determine whether insurance status is associated with differential outpatient treatment of migraine in the United States."1

Study methods:

  • Researchers analyzed 11 years of data on 6,814 visits for Migraine from 1997 to 2007 from two federal surveys that provide a nationally representative sample of all US visits to doctors’ offices, hospital clinics and emergency rooms:
    • the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey
    • the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (conducted in 1997–2007), which surveyed patient visits to doctors’ offices, hospital outpatient departments, and emergency departments (EDs) in the United States.
  • Researchers employed logistic regression data analysis to determine whether insurance status was associated with the prescribing of standard Migraine therapy, defined as:

Study results:

Analysis of the data showed that:

  • people with no insurance were twice as likely to receive substandard migraine care as people with private health insurance.
  • Medicaid enrollees were 50% more likely to receive substandard treatment, suggesting that “access to some forms of insurance is not the same as access to adequate care,” according to Nardin.2
  • People were only 20% as likely to receive standard acute treatment to stop a migraine and 10 percent as likely to receive standard treatment to prevent Migraine in emergency rooms than in doctor’s offices

Study conclusions:

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