Tips For Beating The Financial Burden of Chronic Migraines

Migraineurs generally require 2.5 times more prescription medications and six times more diagnostic tests and services for medical treatment than that of an average individual. In fact, Migraine patients spend about $145 per month in healthcare services compared to non-migraine individuals who average $89 per month. Their elevated need for treatment adds up to an estimated $20 billion each year and costs employers between $5.6 and $17.2 billion in absenteeism annually.

Bottom line – the financial burden of chronic migraines is stifling. Between recurring prescriptions, costly over the counter drugs, missed workdays and countless doctor visits, the average chronic migraine patient is up against a lot more than just physical pain. They’ve got financial grief to worry about, too.

There’s no getting around the fact that migraine treatment costs money, but there are ways to reduce the amount you spend. Here are some tips for beating the financial burden of chronic migraines:

Utilize At-Home Resources

Look around the house for tools to utilize instead of purchasing medical supplies at the store. For example, if an ice pack helps to alleviate migraine pain, use a bag of frozen peas or crushed ice instead of spending on a specialized medical ice pack. If muscle tension is a contributor to your migraines, make your own heating pad to relax muscles instead of buying an over-priced heating mechanism at the store. Microwaving a rice-filled sock is just as effective as a heating pad.

If you think the financial side of migraines is bad, read this: Why Chronic Migraines Are Scarier Than Dating Taylor Swift

Be a Savvy Shopper

Coupon shopping takes time and effort but when done correctly, you can save substantially on over-the-counter migraine medications and supplements. Sign up for coupon programs with your local grocery store or pharmacy and keep an eye out for coupons in the paper or store fliers to cash in on special offers. Even if you save on groceries, you can allocate that savings to your migraine treatment plan.

Switch to Generic Medications

According to the FDA, generic-brand medications work just as well as their pricier name-brand competitors and save billions of dollars each year. Consider making the switch. Ask your doctor about generic replacements for prescription medications and do your research to find the best generic substitutes for over the counter migraine medications. By carefully reading over-the-counter labels, you should be able to clearly determine whether a generic brand implements the same active ingredients. 

Scrutinize Your Pain Management Plan

Schedule a meeting with your physician or pain management team to discuss your financial stress. If you take multiple medications to counter chronic migraines, there may be a simpler combination of drugs you can try. If you take one drug that’s particularly pricy, your treating physicians may be able to recommend a less expensive option or a combination of less expensive drugs that produce similar results. Regardless, the professionals calling the shots need to be aware of your financial boundaries to devise a course for treatment that pairs well with your condition, history and wallet.

Do Your Part to Prevent Attacks

Keep a migraine diary and start tracking your diet, activity, sleep, medication intake and symptoms. The importance of maintaining a well-executed migraine diary is two-fold:

  1. You may be able to identify behaviors that are contributing to more frequent attacks. By eliminating those triggers, you may experience less chronic migraine episodes and by default, require less medication.
  2. You may be able to identify instances of medication overuse, which not only hurts your healthcare budget but also contributes to the onset and severity of migraine attacks.

Experts suggest that if you take prescription or over-the-counter medication for migraine pain more than twice weekly, it’s time for a change in treatment.

Try Alternative Methods of Treatment

With guidance from your treating physician, consider non-traditional approaches to pain management. Supplements like CoQ10 and Magnesium have been proven to reduce migraine frequency and duration and cost only a fraction of what some prescription drugs cost. Aroma therapy may help to manage pain or curb symptoms. Massage therapy and acupuncture are also alternative methods of treatment that have produced promising results in chronic migraine patients.  Alternative treatments still require a budget but they may produce long-term improvements that could negate the need for frequent and expensive prescription drug intake.

It is extremely important for chronic migraine sufferers to communicate with their treating physician(s) about financial stress and treatment methods. As trained experts in chronic migraine care, they will be able to work with you to lower your monthly cost of treatment and will ensure that any changes to your regimen are safe and conducive to your health and quality of life. Get creative with the tools you have at home and dedicate time to searching for coupons. Talk to your doctor about switching to generic brands and let them know you are working with a tight budget. Be open to trying new things and most importantly, do your part to avoid contributing factors by tracking behavior and medication intake with a migraine diary. Remember, when it comes to saving – every penny counts!

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Image Source: Thomas Hawk

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