Migraine Care: Advocate for Access

This year, National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month’s theme is Advocate for Access. The National Headache Foundation and other partner organizations understand that for too long migraine patients received different treatment than others with chronic medical issues. Members of the migraine community struggle to gain access to care or have their condition properly diagnosed by medical professionals.

MHAM allows us to expand the dialogue on treatment for the 40 million American adults impacted by migraine. The National Headache Foundation endeavors to Advocate for Access the entire year. We commit to: champion for patient access to care; inform clinicians so they are able to treat migraine and headache disorders; and ensure access to the therapies to manage migraine disease.

Outdated Care Models

One major reason for a disparity in care in the United States is access to prescription medications. Clinicians use outdated prescription drugs in a stepwise approach to all patients, without considering the needs of the individual patient. Unfortunately, the current care models adopted by payers (health insurance) have not kept pace with the many advances in treatment. Clinicians use older medications, some of which are not specifically designed to treat migraine even though migraine-specific therapies exist.

The NHF advocates that payers adopt care models that are patient-centric. This means the clinician, in collaboration with the patient, is the primary decision-maker. The clinician selects a treatment that addresses the patient’s treatment goals and needs.

Access to Headache Specialists

Many migraine patients experience a disparity in care because of a lack of access to a practitioner properly trained in headache. Most primary care clinicians have little training in migraine. There are currently less than 1,000 certified headache specialists in the United States, with communities of color especially lacking equal access to clinicians who are trained in diagnosing and treating migraine disease and headache disorders. American Indian and Indigenous Peoples have the highest prevalence of disabling headaches. Unfortunately, there are no doctors within the Indian Health Service with specialty UCNS-certification or AQH certification in the field of Headache Medicine.

This June, the migraine community comes together to advocate for access to care for everyone.

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