Clinical research has consistently established mental health conditions (MHCs) as frequent comorbidities of epilepsy. However, the extent of economic burden of comorbid MHC in patients with focal seizures has not been systematically investigated. This retrospective cohort analysis of health plan claims compared healthcare use and costs among adult patients with focal seizures with and without comorbid MHC.
We utilized the Inovalon Medical Outcomes Research for Effectiveness and Economics (MORE) Registry, longitudinal data from over 150 commercial, Medicare Advantage, and managed Medicaid health plans for the analysis, and identified a cohort of patients with focal (partial-onset) seizure with relevant ICD9/10 diagnosis codes with and without MHC. Mental health conditions were defined as diagnoses for anxiety, bipolar condition/mania, attention-deficit conduct condition, major depression, schizophrenia, and other psychotic conditions, and patients without MHC were propensity score-matched to patients with preexisting MHC on baseline patient characteristics. The assessment examined a series of outcomes, including 1) direct healthcare resource utilization and 2) total provider reimbursement.
Patients with preexisting MHC were more likely to receive adjunctive epilepsy therapy as well as broad-spectrum antiepileptic drugs/antiseizure medications (ASMs). Additionally, patients with focal seizures and MHC were significantly more likely to utilize high-cost healthcare services. The presence of MHC was associated with approximately 50% greater utilization of emergency department (ED), physician, and inpatient services. Consequently, healthcare expenditures were significantly higher among patients with MHC ($17,596 vs. $10,857; 62% higher, p < 0.001), with the trend consistent across all care settings.
This analysis illustrates the health service utilization and cost implications of MHC among patients with focal seizures. The data suggest that patients with MHC have a greater overall clinical burden, which may be associated with higher healthcare resource use and expenditures. Because of the potential burden and costs associated with MHC, neurologists should consider screening patients with focal seizures for mental health disorders to identify and initiate treatment for comorbid mental health disorders.

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