A recently released report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), commissioned by the Multiple Sclerosis Society of New Zealand (MSNZ) shows that earlier intervention of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) will not only save New Zealand’s health system millions of dollars per year, it will also contribute millions back into the economy through individual income related earnings.
In 2021 the total estimated employment related loss for individuals with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) was $82 million. Additionally, the total social cost associated with theof MS was estimated to be $266.3 million in the same period.
The report states – understanding the total costs and benefits of a health challenge is good health economics which matters for society because a person’s health has implications for families, society, and the economy.
Although the understanding of MS is evolving. The NZIER report provides evidence that earlier intervention and medicines funding access are key to positive outcomes for both people with MS and the New Zealand economy.
In 2021, around 4,130 people suffered with MS across New Zealand. Predominantly aged between 25 to 50 years old, these people tend to be in their peak earning years and making consequential financial decisions such as home loans and re-financing, household debt and consumption, children and retirement saving plans. The financial consequences of lost employment and lost potential to earn due to the onset of MS are likely to be significant. Individuals’ financial decisions are invariably informed by assumed continued employment and the financial pay-offs associated with career progression. MS can significantly disrupt these plans and oppose unanticipated costs on households and society.
Understanding the total costs and benefits of a health challenge is good health economics which matters for society because a person’s health has implications for families, society, and the economy.
The results have also supported MSNZs advocacy work in pushing for funding for new treatments for the management of MS.
For New Zealand to progress in the assessment of the social cost and benefits of health intervention relating to MS and other conditions, the report proposes the following changes need to be considered:
The report found that access to medicines in New Zealand is falling behind compared to OECD countries due to a combination of reasons, including: