Many people with MS report financial strain related to health care

A Harvard-based study of insurance coverage involving a nationwide sampling of people with multiple sclerosis found that although they had higher than average rates of insurance coverage, many experienced financial strain related to obtaining adequate health care, including paying for their medications. The study, commissioned by the National MS Society, was conducted by Drs. Lisa Iezzoni and Long Ngo and published in an early online release January 29, 2007 in the journal Multiple Sclerosis (http://msj.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/1352458506071356v1).

Study Details: The study was the largest ever undertaken to explore insurance concerns in people with MS. It was based on 30-minute phone interviews with 983 working-age individuals across the U.S. with multiple sclerosis from among the client mailing list of the National MS Society. Most participants were women (79%), white (86%), married or living with a partner (67%), with at least some college education (72%), and unemployed (60%). Half reported having MS for greater than ten years, and most (73%) reported having relapsing-remitting MS. The authors suggested that, since these demographics mirror in many respects those from other well-designed studies, the results can be generalized to the MS population as a whole.

The interview covered questions about MS history, health insurance, disability and life insurance, as well as financial concerns related to obtaining MS medications and other health services.

Findings: A high percentage (96%) of survey participants reported having at least some health insurance, which is a higher rate of coverage than that of the general population, which for all ages is about 86%. However, there is a high level of dependence on governmental programs; about 40% of participants were covered by public health insurance, primarily Medicare and/or Medicaid, in contrast to only

Contact: Arney Rosenblat
National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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