Severe Asthma Expensive for Patients, Employers

It nearly triples annual medical costs, study finds

TUESDAY, Aug. 29, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Persistent asthma carries a high price tag in both medical and indirect costs for employers, a new U.S. study finds.

Researchers analyzed data on nearly 3,000 people with persistent asthma, defined as two or more attacks a week. The study included employees and their dependents covered by insurance plans at 17 companies.

As reported in the August issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, direct medical costs for people with persistent asthma were about $6,500 a year, compared to about $2,000 for people without asthma.

Researchers led by Dr. Gene Colice of Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., also found that 443 employees with persistent asthma triggered high indirect costs due to disability and missed work days. Average annual indirect costs for employees with persistent asthma were $924 more than for workers without asthma, the team found.

Medical and indirect costs were highest for people with severe persistent asthma who have continual symptoms that cause significant limitations in physical activity, the study found.

There was no cost difference between people with mild persistent asthma (attacks at least twice a week) and those with moderate persistent asthma (daily attacks). This may be due to the low rate of treatment with inhaled steroids among people with mild persistent asthma, the researchers said.

They found that less than 10 percent of those with mild persistent asthma used inhaled steroids on a daily basis, compared to 80 percent of those with moderate to severe persistent asthma.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about asthma.

Robert Preidt and Consumer news

Updated on August 30, 2006

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