Real headache of a cost

The economic cost of migraine for Australia is set to reach a substantial $35.7 billion in 2018, a new report estimates for the first time. It also updates the prevalence of this debilitating neurological condition, revealing the number of Australians with migraine now stands at 4.9 million.

Deloitte Access Economics Health Economics and Social Policy Lead Partner Lynne Pezzullo says the report findings clearly indicate the cascading financial burden that migraine places on individuals, employers, society and government.

“We have uncovered a substantial economic burden, largely made up of $16.3 billion of productivity costs and $14.3 billion health system costs,” she said. “Alarmingly, the annual economic cost for each individual person with migraine can reach up to $27,803.”

The report confirms twice as many women than men suffer from migraine (28.7 per cent versus 12 per cent respectively), and most people with migraine are of working age (up to 65 years). They experience time off work and reduced productivity due to the symptoms of migraine and some lose up to 30 productive working days per year resulting from absenteeism or presenteesim (having limited productivity at work due to migraine).

People with migraine are resorting to hospital care – with up to 28 per cent presenting to emergency departments at least once in three months, costing, on average, more than $3,000, which is in addition to other healthcare costs including primary care, specialist visits and pharmaceuticals.

The Brain Foundation CEO Gerald Edmunds says he welcomes the new insights.

“This report brings a valuable update to the historical figures we’ve used for too long, and makes it possible to communicate robust evidence around the economic burden of migraine, as well as the daily impact it places on individuals and all those around them,” he said. “This information will be enormously helpful to our drive to raise funds for research into the aetiology of migraine.”

Painaustralia CEO Carol Bennett said: “Untreated migraine can bring an otherwise healthy individual to their knees, severely reducing their quality of life. It’s staggering to learn people with migraine could have up to eight months of headache days within a one-year period, which must have huge ramifications on their lives overall.”

Caring for a loved one with migraine can be a full-time job and is estimated to cost friends and family up to $83 million, based on dedicated personal time and time not spent in work.

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