Counting the Cost of Asthma

The measurable costs, in terms of lost time and money spent on asthma management, are significant. Unless new technology is developed for managing asthma, the economic burden will continue to persist.

Asthma is distressingly common in the United States, and only becoming more so. According to the CDC and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, asthma rates have continued to increase over the past four decades.

How many people suffer from asthma in the United States?

Today, more than 26 million Americans have asthma. Asthma is the leading chronic disease affecting children and one of the primary causes of hospital stays among children younger than 15 years old.

Consequently, it’s the parents that shoulder the financial burdens of asthma, either their own or their child’s.

aafa chart of the indirect and direct costs of asthmaAsthma allergy Foundation of America, May 2015

What are the direct and indirect costs of asthma?

  • Research shows that the economic burden of asthma in the United States is currently in excess of $56 billion. (1)
  • People with asthma typically pay $3259 in direct costs and even more when you factor in the indirect costs. (2)

Direct costs include fees associated with health-related services. This can include doctor’s fees, hospital stays, and asthma medicine.

Indirect costs are less tangible factors such as missed work and school days and drops in productivity. For instance, asthma is one of the top reasons children between the ages of 5 and 17 miss school. It’s estimated to be the cause of more than 10.5 million missed school days per year. (2)

Who Shoulders the Economic Burden of Asthma?

The effects of asthma are not limited to individuals but extend to the entire nation.

Health insurance can help reduce individual burden, but the costs to treat asthma are passed along as higher insurance premiums for everyone.

Some studies estimate that asthma costs will exceed $963 billion in the next 20 years and everyone in the United States will shoulder that economic burden either directly or indirectly. (3)

How can you reduce the costs of asthma management?

Better asthma control and management are critical to reducing the costs of this disease and relieving the burden on the US economy.

The unpredictability of asthma attacks and is the primary reason that indirect costs are so high. Not knowing when an attack will occur stems directly from a lack of information available to asthmatics.

However, a new wave of economical and easy-to-use devices are unlocking healthcare information. It’s no longer necessary to go to the doctor to monitor asthma symptoms. These devices empower people to take control of their chronic disease and conditions.

Modern technology can help dramatically reduce medical costs and improve the quality of life for patients.

young girl using an Aluna spirometer

How do spirometers help control your asthma symptoms?

Aluna is a perfect example of this sort of new technology in action. Aluna is an innovative, precise spirometry exam and mobile asthma management platform that monitors lung function scores.

It teaches patients, especially children, how to collect data concerning their lung health and share it with their physicians and parents. This sort of data leads to more efficient asthma management, reducing the potential costs of asthma before symptoms even appear.

Aside from helping individual asthma patients improve their quality of life, this sort of proactive management has a ripple effect throughout society. More efficient management of asthma not only reduces healthcare costs, but it also cuts down the number of missed days of school and work.

Though portable spirometry alone will not necessarily eliminate that $963 billion cost of asthma, it can help. When dealing with as large a problem as asthma, every effort must be made to chip away at the costs.

 

Sources:

1. https://www.aafa.org/cost-of-asthma-on-society/
2. https://www.fightchronicdisease.org/sites/default/files/asthma-costs-in-us.pdf
3. https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1164/ajrccm.156.3.9611072

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