Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the US. However, many people who suffer from insomnia, are not treating it. Research shows that insomnia is frequently undiagnosed among Americans. Another problem with insomnia is that it’s often not accessible and affordable by insurers and healthcare organizations.
Many people with symptoms of insomnia try to manage their sleep problems on their own. And there are major consequences of insomnia on health, safety performance, and quality of life. Dr. Wickwire as an assistant professor of psychiatry and director of the Insomnia Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine investigated the staggering financial costs linked with insomnia. Together with his colleagues, he concluded that insomnia costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion a year. The costs are caused by increased healthcare reliance, lost productivity, and more frequent injuries and accidents.
What Makes a Treatment Cost-Effective?
One of the most used tools to assess the cost-effectiveness of healthcare treatment is the quality-adjusted life-year (QALY). A QALY figure calculates both the quantity of time and the quality of time of the treatment. QALY measurements can determine the cost-effectiveness of treatment on its own, and also compared with other health care treatments. Studies show that treatment for insomnia is highly cost-effective.
Treating Insomnia with Sleep Medications
Studies have shown that the prescription of sleep medications is effective, in terms of both treatment and cost. Treating insomnia with pharmacotherapy reduced healthcare costs, costs of workplace absenteeism and presenteeism, and costs linked with injury and accident.
Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia Pays Off
Behavioral treatments for insomnia deal with symptoms of sleep disorder by trying to modify thoughts, emotions, habits, and actions that impact sleep. Scientific research shows that Cognitive-behavioral therapy is very effective for insomnia. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be as or even more effective than sleep medications in the treatment of insomnia.
Several studies that examine the cost of CBT for insomnia suggest that it’s therapeutically effective and also cost-effective. CBT for insomnia reduces healthcare utilization and healthcare costs.
Sleep Medications vs. CBT-I
One study for insomnia compares the cost-effectiveness of sleep medication to CBT. They analyzed the cost-effectiveness of these two treatments in a group of older adults. And a no-treatment group was used as a control. Among older adults, CBT for insomnia proved to be notably more cost-effective than pharmacotherapy.
Moreover, the American Geriatrics Society advises limiting the use of some of the most common sleep medications. This is based on research that suggests these medications deliver minimal improvements, but higher risks for falls, injury, and episodes of delirium in older adults.
Dr. Wick wire points out that insomnia among older adults has the potential for significant economic impact. Age is an important risk factor for insomnia. Insomnia is more common in older populations. And with the population in the US aging, insomnia might become a big health problem.
Delving Deeper into Cost Effectiveness
Dr. Wickwire and his colleagues’ analysis of the costs of insomnia suggests that the majority of insomnia-related expenses come from lost productivity in the workplace. The expenses are $67 billion annually in the U.S. They recommend that measuring costs should be a component of all insomnia trials.
Research and discussion of both therapeutic and economic values linked to insomnia disorder and the treatment are extremely important for the health care market.
They could move us closer to making the most effective therapies more widely understood and accessible. This would mean better care for more people and reducing society’s costs at the same time.