The Cost-Effectiveness of TMS

The Cost-Effectiveness of TMS

The cost-effectiveness of TMS is a critical factor when deciding on your depression treatment options. Recovery is important, and those who are struggling with mental illness want to reach remission via the quickest, least financially burdensome method possible. It’s also important that the treatment has long-term benefits in order to prevent the emotional and fiscal consequences of relapse.


The costs of depression often reach beyond healthcare bills. Those struggling with depression may find themselves unable to work–or unable to work as much or effectively as they used to– which puts a dent in earning potential. The costs of depression are also social and emotional. Many people who have depression do not have the same capacity to act as a caregiver or maintain relationships and hobbies as they did before.


Research has shown that 40% of patients with major depressive disorder do not respond to or tolerate antidepressant medications and of the patients who do respond to these medications, 85% will relapse within 15 years. With such a low efficacy rate, it is important for patients to consider other treatment options from both a health and a financial standpoint.



Many studies have explored the cost-effectiveness of TMS therapy in comparison to the cost-effectiveness of pharmacological antidepressant therapies. This research has considered the cost of both treatments over time, as well as the efficacy of both treatments over time. These diverse studies conclude that TMS offers a more cost-effective course of treatment than pharmacological therapies.


TMS Vs. Pharmacotherapy

Many studies analyze cost-effectiveness using the Markov Model, which is an analytical framework that is commonly applied to decision analysis. It enjoys widespread use in cases that seek to evaluate the economic ramifications of healthcare interventions.


In a 2015 study that compared the cost-effectiveness of TMS against the cost-effectiveness of pharmacotherapy, this model determined that TMS had the capacity to be 73% cost-effective. This study calculated incremental cost-utility ratios for each type of therapy by comparing cost to quality-adjusted life years (QALYS) in a three-year-long simulation. Quality-adjusted life years are a generic measure of disease burden used in economic assessments that evaluate the value for spending on medical interventions. Quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) assume health to be a function of both length and quality of life.


The research discovered that “QALYs gained with rTMS were higher than those gained with antidepressant medications (1.25 QALYs vs. 1.18 QALYs) while costs were slightly less.”


This study specifically considered a wide variety of antidepressant medications, including serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, tricyclics, noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. The study focused exclusively on patients who had experienced two failed treatments for major depressive disorder using medications.


The Cost-Effectiveness of TMS Relative To Age

A 2017 study used a lifetime Markov simulation model to compare the direct costs and QALYs of TMS therapy and pharmacotherapy in patients ranging in age from twenty to fifty-nine years old who were recently diagnosed with major depressive disorder and did not benefit from an initial antidepressant medication trial.


This study found that QALYS and lifetime direct treatment costs demonstrated TMS to provide lower costs than antidepressant medications with better outcomes for participants in all age ranges. Patients’ life expectancies, rates of response and remission, and quality of life outcomes were all considered.


How To Measure Cost-Effectiveness

Another recent study examined the effectiveness of TMS by using an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) per QALY gained due to treatment. In addition to direct treatment costs, the evaluation model considered costs due to lost work productivity and lost caregiver time.


The study demonstrated that TMS offered a net cost savings of $1,123 per QALY when compared with the current standard of care. Cost savings grew when the costs of productivity losses were included in the analysis, bringing the net savings to $7,621. Like its peers, the study confirmed that TMS is a particularly cost-effective treatment for patients who have not benefitted from traditional pharmacotherapy.


Mid City TMS Can Help

If you’re looking for a cost-effective treatment for depression, Mid City TMS is here to help you decide if TMS is the right therapy for you. TMS is a non-invasive, extremely low-risk treatment for depression that is covered by almost all insurance providers. Contact us today to find out if TMS might be an appropriate next step in your mental health journey.

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