Asthma in Children and Our Growing National Health Care Costs

DollarThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in 2009, 24.6 million American adults had asthma. During the same year, the disease affected 7.1 million children under the age of 18. As for the financial impact, the CDC estimates that the direct cost of treating asthma in children and adults is about $50.1 billion, while indirect costs amount to $5.9 billion, for a total of $56 billion annually.

The Price of Asthma

The occurrence of asthma, a lifelong disease, is on the rise. For example, from 2001 to 2009, the number of people diagnosed with asthma grew by 4.3 million. As experts gather asthma information, they find that medical expenses related to the treatment of the disease are also increasing. Such expenses rose to $50.1 billion in 2007, a $1.5 billion increase in the span of five years. According to the CDC, 11 percent of asthma patients who had health insurance couldn’t afford their prescription medications. Among the uninsured, 40 percent couldn’t afford their asthma medications.

In addition to economic costs, asthma has educational and professional costs . In 2008, 59 percent of children with asthma missed school because of an asthma attack, and 33 percent of adults with asthma missed work. On average, children with asthma missed four days of school, while adults missed five days of work. Additionally, asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children who are 15 and younger.

Managing Asthma and Related Costs

Asthma in children has an impact on the lives of both young people and their families. Fortunately, access to asthma information and education can help improve the quality of life and reduce medical expenses. The CDC reports that fewer than 50 percent of asthma patients learned how to avoid triggers in 2008. By creating an asthma action plan with a physician and following the recommendations listed, asthma patients can manage their symptoms with more success.

At, an ORCAS website, we offer asthma information and educational resources

to help parents learn how to empower children to manage their asthma. In 2012, ORCAS completed a randomized control trial funded by the National Heart Lung & Blood Institute to test the efficacy of Lungtropolis® with 311 parent-child pairs. Forty-five days after use of the web program, children in the treatment group showed significant gains in knowledge about asthma management, and parents felt more confident about managing their children’s asthma.

Photo byImages_of_Money on Flickr.


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