KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Asthma: The Costs Of Meds And Challenges Of Care

Although asthma can usually be controlled with prescription medications, being able to afford them requires good insurance or lots of disposable income. Meanwhile, reducing the emergency-room visits of children who suffer from asthma is a key to holding down costs and having better luck controlling the condition.

The New York Times: The Soaring Cost Of A Simple Breath
Asthma — the most common chronic disease that affects Americans of all ages, about 40 million people — can usually be well controlled with drugs. But being able to afford prescription medications in the United States often requires top-notch insurance or plenty of disposable income, and time to hunt for deals and bargains. The arsenal of medicines in the Hayeses’ kitchen helps explain why. Pulmicort, a steroid inhaler, generally retails for over $175 in the United States, while pharmacists in Britain buy the identical product for about $20 and dispense it free of charge to asthma patients. Albuterol, one of the oldest asthma medicines, typically costs $50 to $100 per inhaler in the United States, but it was less than $15 a decade ago, before it was repatented (Rosenthal, 10/12).

The Washington Post: Children’s Hospital Aims To Cut Asthma-Related ER Visits
Three times in one week in September, 13-year-old Ellis Powell struggled to breathe. Three times, his mother called an ambulance and raced the gasping boy to the emergency room. ... Powell has again come to the ER at Children’s National Medical Center on this October day, not because Ellis has had another crisis, but because he has an appointment in the Asthma Clinic, in the only ER in the country that tries to do what other doctors do not: teach families how to manage the chronic condition with medication so they can avoid terrifying and costly trips to the ER (Schulte, 10/12).

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