Migraines, often characterized by excruciating headache and nausea, are much worse for the uninsured, a new Harvard Medical School study shows.
Researchers say migraine sufferers who lack private health insurance get poor care for their condition. They are about twice as likely to get inadequate treatment for their headaches as their privately insured counterparts. People with Medicaid also get substandard care.
Because migraine is common in the United States, affecting about 18 percent of women and 6 percent of men, and because so many Americans lack health insurance, a startling 5.5 million people are at risk of getting substandard care for their often painful and disabling headaches, the researchers say.
The study, titled "The impact of insurance status on migraine care in the United States: a population based study," was published today [Tuesday, April 13] in Neurology, the world's leading clinical neurology journal.
Study senior author Dr. Rachel Nardin, assistant professor of neurology at Harvard and chief of neurology at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts, said: "The tragedy is that we know how to treat this disabling condition. But because they are uninsured or inadequately insured, millions of Americans suffer needlessly.
"Unfortunately," she said, "the new health law doesn't fully address this problem. At least 23 million people will remain uninsured nine years out.
"Optimizing migraine care requires improvement in our health care systems as well as educating physicians to prescribe the best available drug and behavioral treatments."
The researchers analyzed data from two federal surveys, the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which together provide a nationally representative sample of all U.S. visits to doctors' offices, hospital clinics and emergency rooms. They analyzed the 6,814 visits for migraine betw
|Contact: Mark Almberg|
Physicians for a National Health Program