Objective: To compare healthcare use and associated costs in patients with migraine and patients without migraine headache.
Design: Retrospective review of a managed care organization's medical and pharmacy claims databases for claims filed between January 1, 1989 and June 30, 1990.
Patients: Patients between 18 and 64 years old with a 12-month minimum enrollment in the health plan, including enrollment for the prescription drug benefit. Migraine group (n = 1336) inclusion required a medical claim with the diagnosis of migraine headache and a pharmacy claim for a medication potentially used for migraine treatment. Comparison group (n = 1336) inclusion required at least one medical claim with no diagnosis of migraine; a pharmacy claim was not required. Comparison group patients were matched to migraine group patients by age, gender, enrollment status, and subscriber or dependent enrollment status.
Outcome measures: Total health services use, diagnosis-specific use of services, diagnostic procedures performed, comorbid conditions, medication use, and associated costs were tallied.
Results: Migraineurs generated nearly twice as many medical claims as comparison group patients, and nearly 2.5 times as many pharmacy claims. Number of claims generated and numbers of patients who generated claims within each of 19 diagnostic categories indicated greater comorbidity in the migraine group. Migraineurs used emergency services more than did patients in the comparison group. Total medical and pharmacy claims costs were $3.4 million for the migraine group and $2.1 million for the comparison group. The average amount paid per member-month of enrollment was significantly greater in the migraine group than in the comparison group. Comorbid conditions were responsible for a significant portion of costs in the migraine group. The migraine group incurred $83,537 for diagnostic procedures compared with $13,140 incurred by the comparison group.
Conclusions: Patients with migraine had greater morbidity in general and incurred 64 percent greater costs in healthcare resource use compared with patients without migraine.