Background: Many individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) depart the workforce prematurely. In the United States, access to insurance, including health, disability income, long-term care, and life insurance, is largely employment-based or purchased from earnings. Many individuals we see in the clinic experience financial hardship because of a lack of insurance, even if working. We sought to determine the proportion of workers who are financially protected through insurance coverage and the sources of this coverage in a large sample.
Methods: We developed an online survey and opened it to individuals aged 18 to 65 years registered with the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis, iConquerMS, or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Minority Advisory Council. Data collected included demographic and disease characteristics, current information about each insurance type (coverage vs no coverage), and when the current insurance policies were obtained relative to MS diagnosis.
Results: Of 2507 survey respondents, 82.9% were female, 3.8% Hispanic/Latino, and 91.2% White. The mean ± SD age was 53.5 ± 8.5 years and disease duration was 16.4 ± 8.5 years after diagnosis. The most frequently held insurance types were health (96.3%) and life (58.8%). Only 9.7% of respondents had long-term care insurance. Except for life insurance, most current policies were obtained after MS diagnosis.
Conclusions: Individuals with MS might not prioritize the possible short- and long-term benefits of these types of insurance. Health care providers can direct patients to nonprofit agencies that educate about of these insurance types and emphasize that others with MS have obtained these insurance types after their diagnosis.