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Cost of Asthma

cost of asthma
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, May 2015

From 2001 to 2011, the number of people suffering from asthma increased by 28%. As a result of this continual rise in asthma prevalence, the cost of asthma has also risen. In 2002, the total cost of asthma in the United States was 53 billion. In 2007, the cost of asthma rose to 56 billion, an increase of 6 percent. The total cost of asthma consists of both direct costs, such as medications and hospitalizations, and indirect costs, such as loss of work days and productivity. These numbers indicate that the current economic burden of asthma on our society is substantial and needs to be addressed. 


  • The annual cost of asthma in the United States is estimated to be $56 billion.1
  • Direct costs account for nearly $50.1 billion with hospitalizations being the single largest portion.2
  • Indirect costs account for $5.9 billion including lost earnings due to illness or death and lost productivity due to missed school or work days.2
  • In 2009, a study found that the direct cost of asthma was estimated to be $3,259 per person per year.2
  • For adults, asthma is the leading cause of work absenteeism and loss of productivity with more than 14 million work days lost each year and accounts for approximately $2 billion of asthma indirect costs.3 2
  • Among children 5 to 17, asthma is one of the leading causes of school absences and accounts for more than 10.5 million missed school days per year.1
  • In 2008, more than half of children and one-third of adults missed school or work due to their asthma.3
  • Children with asthma miss 2.48 more days of school than children without asthma per year.4
  • Adults with an annual income of $75,000 or less are more likely to have asthma compared to those with higher annual incomes.3


  • Americans suffering from asthma are much more likely to have health insurance than those that do not have asthma.5
  • Children with asthma were more likely to have full year health insurance than adults.5
  • Those suffering from asthma report cost barriers in health care such as not being able to afford medications or see an asthma specialist, but more of these reports come from those with no and partial health coverage.5
  • A person with asthma that does not have insurance is much more likely to visit the emergency room than a person that has health insurance.5
  • Those with asthma that have a low income and need to cover the costs of asthma treatment may be eligible to qualify for Medicaid. Families that have children with asthma that do not qualify for Medicaid may qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP).6
  • People with asthma have substantially higher out-of-pocket costs, and they are the most likely to continue using their medication despite the financial burden.7
  • One study showed that total spending and out-of-pocket costs were higher for patients receiving treatment, including those that did or did not have an asthma attack in the past year, compared to those that did not receive treatment.7
  • A study showed that 16 percent of people with asthma reported a high medical cost burden, spending more than 10 percent of their income for out of pocket expenses. These people were also the most likely to not continue treatment.7


  • The prices of inhaled asthma medications has risen dramatically in the past few years due to the ban on the propellant once used in inhalers.8
  • Since 2009, manufacturers have been able to increase the price of inhaled asthma medications an average of 50 percent.8
  • In 2014, Medicaid spent approximately $67 per member per year on asthma medications which is the third highest of an category.9
  • The price of asthma medications per member per year has dropped by almost 15 percent in 2014 primarily due to the decrease in the unit cost. This has caused asthma to drop to the seventh most expensive condition.9
  • 54.9 percent of adults and 78.3 percent of pediatric patients are not adherent to the medications.7


1United State Environmental Protection Agency. Asthma Facts. March 2013. http://www.epa.gov/asthma/pdfs/asthma_fact_sheet_en.pdf
2Barnett S and Numagambetov T. Costs of asthma in the United States: 2002-2007. JACI. 2011. Jan:127(1):145-152. DOI:
 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2010.10.020. http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(10)01634-9/abstract
3CDC. National Center for Environmental Health. Asthma’s Impact on the Nation: Data from the CDC National Asthma Control Program. 2014.
4ang LY, Zhong Y, Wheeler L. Direct and indirect costs of asthma in school-age children. Prev Chronic Disease. Jan 2005. 2(1). http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2005/jan/04_0053.htm
5DC. Asthma Facts: CDC’s National Asthma Control Program Grantees. July 2013. http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/pdfs/asthma_facts_program_grantees.pdf
6DC. Asthma. Insurance coverage and barriers to care for people with asthma.
7arrier E and Cunningham P. Medical Costs Burdens Among Nonelderly Adults with Asthma. AMJC. November 2014.
8onsumer Reports. Evaluating Inhaled Steriods Used to Treat: Asthma. Nov 2013.

9he Express Scripts Lab. The 2014 Drug Trend Report. March 2015. http://lab.express-scripts.com/drug-trend-report/

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