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Asthma carves $82 billion out of US economy every year

Published on 15/01/18 at 02:51pm

A study created by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that asthma is costing the US economy $81.9 billion each year.

The findings were an extrapolation from close to 214,000 respondents over a six-year period, within with which 10,237 individuals were identified as being treated for asthma.

Asthma sufferers were identified by having at least one medical encounter for asthma or filling in a prescription for asthma medicine once a year.

“The cost of asthma is one of the most important measures of the burden of the disease,” said Tursynbek Nurmagambetov, lead study author and Health Economist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Cost studies can influence health policy decisions and help decision makers understand the scale, seriousness and implications of asthma, so that resources can be identified to improve disease management and reduce the burden of asthma.”

In this cost study, the dollars began to mount rapidly as the cross section of sufferers was applied to the general population.

In total, it estimated that there approximately 15.4 million living in the US with asthma. The largest drivers of cost were the numbers of death due to the condition, with asthma-related mortality costing the economy $29 billion each year.

The annual cost per-person was estimated as an average annual cost of $3,266, spent on prescription, office visits, hospitalisations and emergency room care.

Another big factor was the estimated $3 billion lost each year when both school children and workers are unable to attend due to asthma.

The researchers warned that the cost is likely far higher than the total estimation of $81.9 billion, as their study did not take into account those with undiagnosed asthma and did not include non-medical costs associated with the condition.

“The findings of the paper highlight the critical need to support and further strengthen asthma control strategies,” Nurmagambetov said. “CDC's National Asthma Control Program was founded in 1999 to help reduce the burden of asthma in the US. In order to reduce asthma-related ER visits, hospitalisations, absenteeism and mortality, we need to support guidelines-based care, expand self-management education and reduce environmental asthma triggers at homes.”

Ben Hargreaves

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