Impact of MS

Nearly 1 million Americans have MS

A landmark study estimates that the number of adults living with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the United States is nearly 1 million.1 This is more than twice the previously reported number. A more accurate estimate of disease prevalence allows for a better understanding of the impact of the disease and improved strategies for addressing the needs of people living and working with MS.

MS is more prevalent in women and in adults 45-74a,1

  • 700
  • 600
  • 500
  • 400
  • 300
  • 200
  • 100
  • 0
MS Prevalence (per 100,000 people)
  • Male
  • Female

aEstimates of MS prevalence in the United States per 100,000 population derived from 2010 US Census and combined datasets from the multiple sclerosis (MS) algorithm inclusive of the following: Truven, Optum, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Department of Veterans Affairs, Medicare, and Medicaid. For more details, click here.

MS is most prevalent in the Northeastb,1

bFigures presented are calculated from an algorithm-based approach for estimating the prevalence of MS in administrative healthcare data sets from a population of 125 million individuals >18 years of age. For more details, click here.

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Concerns of people with MS

The worries of people with MS can be divided into those concerned with the physical impact of the disease and those related to the social and psychological issues. One studyc asked: “What part of MS are you most afraid of?”


Mobility/Physical Vulnerability


Social, Family Work/Daily Activities

cUK study of 39 MS Patients and 40 Healthy Controls, Factor Analysis derived from WQMS (Worry Questionnaire for Multiple Sclerosis) subscales2

Advancements in MS continue to boost workplace productivity

The percentage of patients without any sickness-related absence increased from 38% to 70% over the last 2 decades, while full-time sickness absence decreased from 39% to 13%.

No Sickness Absence
Full-Time Sickness Absence
  • 0
  • 10
  • 20
  • 30
  • 40
  • 50
  • 60
  • 70
  • 80
  • 1997
  • 2013

References: 1. Wallin MT, et al. Neurology. 2019 Mar 5;92(10):e1029-e1040 2. Thornton EW, et al. Worries and concerns of patients with multiple sclerosis: development of an assessment scale. Multiple Sclerosis. 2006;12:196-203. 3. Wickström A, et al. Mult Scler J Exp Transl Clin. 2015;1:2055217315608203.

Study Description


To generate a national multiple sclerosis (MS) prevalence estimate for the United States by applying a validated algorithm to multiple administrative health claims (AHC) datasets.

Data Source

Several AHC datasets representing the US private and government-sponsored insurance programs which included Optum (OP), Truven Health (TH), Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs.


A validated algorithm was applied to each dataset, to determine the 3-year cumulative prevalence overall and stratified by age, sex, and census region for adults (≥18 years of age). Insurance-specific and stratum-specific estimates were applied to the 2010 US Census data. The findings were pooled to calculate the 2010 prevalence of MS in the United States cumulated over 3 years. The study estimated the 2010 prevalence cumulated over 10 years using 2 models and extrapolated the estimate to 2017.

Study Outcomes

Estimated 2010 US MS prevalence accumulated over 10 years. Also, extrapolated date to 2017 prevalence.


Results may not be generalizable to the entire US population. This study assessed 100% of publicly funded population but not the uninsured population or children 18 years of age within the US.


  • The study did not include children, the Indian Health Service, the US prison system, or undocumented US residents in our prevalence estimates.
  • Those with MS not followed in the traditional health care system (e.g., alternative medicine or cash health care practices that bypass health insurance reimbursement) would be missed by our method. This would result in an underestimate of MS cases.
  • Study did not characterize the racial or ethnic demographics of our MS population in this report because race and ethnicity were not uniformly collected in the AHC datasets used.
  • The majority of datasets, except VA, contained less than 10 years of data.

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