LOS ANGELES, Nov. 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- As the US healthcare system increasingly moves toward reimbursement based on value, rather than volume of care, a growing movement toward systematic value assessment is taking shape. Traditional cost-effectiveness studies focus on cost relative to clinical benefits, but there is mounting evidence that health technologies can provide substantial value outside of direct clinical benefits. Often, these non-clinical benefits are very important. A new study demonstrates that non-clinical benefits including productivity and "peace of mind" provide value to society for chronic progressive diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), a debilitating neurological disease in which patients experience fatigue, pain, and mobility and sensory problems. Though no cure for MS currently exists, a number of therapies are available to help manage the symptoms and slow the disease's progression. The study, recently published in the American Journal of Managed Care, finds that, for healthy individuals without MS, the knowledge that MS therapies are available provides significant value. The broader perspective of consumers matters. The cost of covering MS drugs is borne primarily by consumers who do not have MS, but pay insurance premiums and taxes that finance coverage. However, all healthcare consumers also benefit from MS treatments that reduce direct medical costs (e.g., for hospitalizations), increase workplace productivity and income, and provide "peace of mind" for the population at risk of MS because there is technology available to slow or delay its progression. When decisions about health insurance coverage policies are based on value, this has important implications for beneficiaries who are paying for insurance. Past estimates of treatment value only accounted for the direct medical benefits generated for sick individuals. This approach has ignored the indirect benefits for patients and the overall benefits for healthy individuals, and may have underestimated MS therapies' value to society, according to the authors.