Helping Shoulder the Burden of Asthma

asthma inhalerAbout 25 million people have asthma in the U.S. and the rates are rising every year. The crippling costs of asthma for some patients can lead to poverty, inadequate treatment, and the tragedy of premature death.

Asthma is an auto-immune disease that causes inflammation in the airways, resulting in breathlessness and tightening in the chest. Poorly treated asthma leads to work absenteeism and days missed from school. In 2007 alone, the U.S. paid out $50.1 billion in expenses relating to asthma.

The Cost of Asthma

Albuterol (Proair), a long-standing asthma medication, can cost more than $100 per inhaler. Pulmicort, another inhaler, retails for more than $175 on the other hand. The soaring costs over the last 15 years are due to drug companies applying for new patents on their drugs and a gradual phasing out of generic alternatives.

Some medical insurance plans don’t cover prescriptions or stipulate large co-pays, leaving the asthmatic patient with the choice of high bills or a high premium for a plan with better coverage. Some low-income patients ration their inhalers and don’t use them as often as required to save money.

Poorly managed asthma leads to severe asthma attacks and hospitalization. Forgoing medication can be a costly mistake, with a trip to the ER costing $400. If they then must be admitted or needed intensive care treatment, the bill goes up to around $28,000. Tragically, more than 3,000 people lose their lives prematurely each year due to poorly treated asthma.

Prescription Help

Fortunately, The Rx Solution noted that a patient assistance program for Proair is available. Low-income families who are eligible can join and enjoy subsidized medications at a greatly discounted cost, simply by presenting their membership card. Some schemes provide entirely free prescriptions.

Asthma can cost billions each year and increased health costs can deter asthmatics from treatment, causing hefty hospital bills. Prescription assistance programs can offer life-saving medications free or discounted so they can breathe easily again.