As you know from my recent posts, the costs of health care and our national tragedy of a broken health insurance system have been hitting me where I live lately. Of course I’m far from alone in this. In the current economic crisis, people are finding it harder than ever to afford the medications and health care they need. In a study published on October 14, the National Headache Foundation (NHF) surveyed 270 headache sufferers on line recently, and found that more than three quarters of the respondents said they have cut back financially, and those cuts have impacted their headache treatment:

63 % admit they rely on prescribed medications for their headache. However, since the economic decline, 29 % have either delayed or skipped filling prescriptions for headache medications due to financial set-backs. Another 53 % switched to over-the-counter medication instead of their prescription medication to treat headache in an effort to save money.

Migraineurs are not alone in this, of course, the New York Times reported last week that prescription drug sales are down, and people are cutting back on life saving medications for many medical conditions.

The NHF’s survey also found that people were cutting back on certain types of food purchases, and were not sleeping as well and feeling more stress due to their economic situation. Sleep disturbances, anxiety and dietary changes were all cited as triggering increased headaches.

Delaying or skipping filling prescriptions, or using over the counter medications as a substitute is a serious concern. It’s easy for me to say to you – don’t cut back on prescription medications! Find something else to cut back on! If the choice is between snack foods and prescriptions, definitely give up the snack foods. Unfortunately, many of my prescriptions have a $50 co-pay. I could save a lot more money delaying a $50 co-pay than going without a $3.89 box of donuts. Sometimes we are faced with real, terrible choices. Sometimes we have to choose what to do without, and there may be no truly right answer. I will not presume to advise you here - you must make your own choice.

Some economic insecurity is very real. Some people lose their jobs, can’t get loans, lose their investments, don’t have health insurance, and have to make terrible choices. Please ask yourself whether you really need to forgo this expense, or whether it is just anxiety and fear for the future that is making your decision for you.

The NHF has some suggestions for ways to afford your prescriptions:
• If you are unable to afford your medication, many pharmaceutical companies offer patient assistance programs.
Talk to your doctor or visit the NHF Web site ( and click on Headache Education-Tools for Sufferers for a list of available programs.
• Talk to your doctor about your financial situation; there may be a generic form of your prescription available.

Beyond the nuts and bolts of paying for the prescriptions, though, you need ways to manage your stress and anxiety. I suggest snuggling a kitty if you can. NHF has some good advice, picking up on some familiar themes here at Free my Brain, they suggest you practice relaxation techniques and include exercise in your daily routine.

Suzanne Simons, NHF Executive Director, concludes with a great piece of advice: “remember that the financial turmoil we are currently experiencing is temporary. The situation will get better and keeping a positive outlook may help lessen the emotional and physical impact of these volatile economic times.”

Remember that economies are affected by attitudes. Refuse to give in to despair. Do whatever you can to make things better!

Author's Bio: 

Megan Oltman is a migraineur, an entrepreneur, and a Migraine Management Coach, helping migraineurs and people with chronic illness manage their lives, keep working, start and maintain businesses, and live purposeful lives. She also practices as a professional divorce mediator. Over the years, she's been a practicing attorney, a free-lance writer, and a business coach and advisor. Megan has a free Migraine management course, The Six Keys to Manage your Migraines and Take Back your Life, available at Her writings on Migraine and more tools for managing life with Migraine can be found at