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Allergies, Asthma… What’s the Cost?

allergy-animals-pollen-foodAll of us in Florida know somebody who has allergies. Most of allergy sufferers are familiar with symptoms of asthma. Each year in the United States asthma accounts for an enormous social and economic cost. More than 25.7 million Americans — one in 12 — suffer from asthma, including 7.7 percent of adults and 9.5 percent of children.1,2 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this translates into more than nine million office visits, two million emergency department (ED) visits, half a million hospitalizations, and more than 3,300 deaths each year.3,4,5 The direct costs of high levels of healthcare utilization and the indirect costs of premature death and absenteeism from school and work total a staggering $56 billion per year.6

1 in 12 Americans suffer from asthma
11.5 million medical visits = $56 billion

Direct Costs

Although the majority of exacerbations can be prevented through proper disease management, a minority of patients have their
asthma under control. There is significant variation in direct healthcare costs for someone with asthma depending on the
patient’s level of asthma control.

In a study of Kaiser Permanente’s Southern California System, there was a $3,499 difference in direct costs for those with uncontrolled versus controlled asthma — $6,797 versus $3,298, respectively.7

A national study by Ivanova et al. found a difference of $4,212, and Barnett et al. found a difference of $3,259, using the 2004 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).8,12

Hospitalizations account for a large portion of the direct costs of uncontrolled asthma. When asthma is not under control, patients are at greater risk for acute exacerbations that bring them to the hospital. The average asthma-related hospitalization lasts three days and can cost anywhere between $12,000 and $24,000.9

ED visits are similarly costly. In Florida, an average asthma-related ED visit costs $2,100.10

Indirect Costs

For children, asthma is the most common cause of school absences and accounts for an average of eight days per student with asthma per year—14 million total. Not only do these students miss school, but those with persistent asthma and frequent absenteeism also are shown to perform lower on standardized tests.11

14 million days of school missed
14 million days of work lost
$3 billion in lost productivity

Adult work life is similarly affected by asthma and accounts for 15 million missed or “less productive” workdays each year – costing $300 per worker a year — for a total loss of $3 billion for the U.S. economy.6

Mortality also accounted for more than $2 billion in indirect costs.12 Indirect costs vary greatly depending on the patient’s level of asthma control. Yearly indirect costs related to asthma for patients with poor control reach $8,729, while those with high control only cost $4,365.8


Find out what you are allergic to – Get your allergies and asthma in control!

1 Schiller JS, Lucas JW, Ward BW, Peregoy JA. Summary health statistics for U.S. adults: National Health Interview
Survey, 2010. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 10(252). 2012.
2 Bloom B, Cohen RA, Freeman G. Summary health statistics for U.S. children: National Health Interview Survey, 2010. National Center or Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 10(250). 2011.
3 Center for Disease Control. Asthma’s Impact on the Nation. Accessed online 19 July 19, 2012 at: on/default.htm
4 Center for Disease Control. National Hospital Discharge Survey 2009. National Center for Health Statistics. 2011.
5 Schappert SM, Rechtsteiner EA. Ambulatory medical care utilization estimates for 2007. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 13(169). 2011
6 Center for Disease Control. Surveillance for Asthma: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2002
7 Zeiger, R.S., et al. Asthma costs and utilization in a managed care organization. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: 121(4). 2008.
8 Ivanova, J, et al. Effect of asthma exacerbations on health care costs among asthmatic patients with moderate and
severe persistent asthma. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: 129(5). 2012.
9 Milet, M, Tran, S, Eatherton, M, Flatt ery, J, Kreutzer, R, Wohl-Sanchez, L. The Burden of Asthma in California. 2007.
10 Florida Healthcare Agency. htt p://www.? oridahealth?
11 Moonie, S, et al. The relati onship between school absence, academic performance, and asthma status. Journal of School Health: 48(3). 2008.
12 Barnett SB, et al. Costs of asthma in the United States: 2002-2007. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: 127(1). 2011