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Neil Goldfarb Outlines the Importance of Managing Employees With Migraine

Traditionally, migraine is thought of as an issue of lost productivity, but there is evidence that there are direct costs on the medical claims side, said Neil Goldfarb, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Philadelphia Business Group on Health.


Traditionally, migraine is thought of as an issue of lost productivity, but there is evidence that there are direct costs on the medical claims side, said Neil Goldfarb, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Philadelphia Business Group on Health.

Transcript

How are employers managing their employees who have migraines that might result in presenteeism or absenteeism?

So, historically, employers have not paid very much attention to migraine. They don’t see it a lot in their direct costs. It’s actually there in direct costs. We just completed a study that shows that migraineurs do cost significantly more on the medical claims side than non-migraineurs. But it’s traditionally thought of as a lost-productivity issue—absence from the job or not being able to do the full days’ job, which is call presenteeism.

With a new class of migraine preventive drugs that are not inexpensive, I think there is some renewed employer interest in at least knowing how many migraineurs do we have, what might the cost be to us in the future? So, we are doing a lot of education of employers on how to identify the migraineurs, because migraine is actually highly underdiagnosed. And so, if you look at your claims data, you might say, “I have 2% or 3% migraine rate,” when we know that the truth is for younger females the migraine rate could be 15% to 20%.

So, employers need to look at their data differently. And also need to get, I think, a little bit more invested in: how are we actually going to measure the indirect costs of the lost productivity? Most employers I talk to say, “We know lost productivity is important. W either don’t believe the measures are valid or we don’t know how to implement the measures. Or my [chief financial officer] is not asking for that information.”

So, there’s a tremendous amount that has to change—not just for migraine but for other conditions—to say, “Lost productivity is a truly important cost that needs to be managed.”

 
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