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Cost of Asthma on Society

From 2001 to 2011, the number of people with asthma grew by 28 percent. This constant rise in asthma means the cost of asthma has also grown.

From 2001 to 2011, the number of people with asthma grew by 28 percent. This constant rise in asthma means the cost of asthma has also grown. In 2002, the total cost of asthma in the United States was $53 billion. In 2007, the cost of asthma grew to $56 billion. This is an increase of 6 percent. The total cost of asthma includes both direct costs, like medicines and hospital stays, and indirect costs, like missed work days and productivity. These numbers show that the current cost of asthma on our society is important. We need to do something about this issue.

What Does Asthma Cost in the United States?

Cost of Asthma on US Society

  • Researchers think the yearly cost of asthma in the United States is around $56 billion.1
  • The direct costs make up almost $50.1 billion. Hospital stays are the largest part of that cost.2
  • Indirect costs make up $5.9 billion. This includes lost pay from sickness or death and lost work output from missed school or work days.2
  • In 2009, researchers found that the direct cost of asthma is about $3,259 per person each year.2
  • For adults, asthma is the top reason those with asthma miss work and don’t perform as well at work. Sufferers miss about 14 million work days each year. This equals about $2 billion of asthma indirect costs.2 3
  • In children 5 to 17, asthma is one of the top reasons they miss school. This causes 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 because of their asthma. 3
  • Children with asthma miss 2.48 more days of school each year than children without asthma.4
  • Adults who make $75,000 a year or less are more likely to have asthma compared to those with higher yearly salaries.3

What Are the Costs of Asthma for Those With Health Insurance Coverage?

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  • 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 tend to have trouble paying for health care. For example, they might have trouble paying for medicines or visits to an asthma specialist. But more of these reports come from those with no or partial health coverage. 5
  • A person with asthma that does not have insurance visits the emergency room more 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 able to get Medicaid. Families that have children with asthma that do not qualify for Medicaid may qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Plan. 6
  • People with asthma have much higher out-of-pocket costs. They are the most likely to continue using their medication even if they have trouble paying for it. 7
  • One study showed that patients getting treatment pay more out-of-pocket costs. This includes those that did or did not have an asthma attack in the past year, compared to those that did not get treatment. 7
  • A study showed that 16 percent of people with asthma reported high health costs, spending more than 10 percent of their income for out-of-pocket expenses. These people were also the most likely to not keep receiving treatment. 7

What Are the Costs of Asthma Medications?

  • The prices of inhaled asthma medicines has grown a lot in the past few years because of the ban on the propellant once used in inhalers. 8
  • Since 2009, the cost of inhaled asthma medicines have increase by an average of 50 percent. 8
  • In 2014, Medicaid spent about $67 per member each year on asthma medicine, which is the third highest of any category. 9
  • The price of asthma medications per member each year has dropped by almost 15 percent in 2014, mostly because the cost per unit has dropped. This has caused asthma to drop to the seventh most costly illness. 9
  • 54.9 percent of adults and 78.3 percent of children are not committed to using the medications. 8

[1] United States Environmental Protection Agency. Asthma Facts. March 2013.

[2] Barnett S and Numagambetov T. Costs of asthma in the United States: 2002-2007. JACI. 2011. Jan:127(1):145-152. DOI:

[3] CDC. National Center for Environmental Health. Asthma’s Impact on the Nation: Data from the CDC National Asthma Control Program. 2014.

[4] Wang LY, Zhong Y, Wheeler L. Direct and indirect costs of asthma in school-age children. Prev Chronic Disease. Jan 2005. 2(1).

[5] CDC. Asthma Facts: CDC’s National Asthma Control Program Grantees. July 2013.

[6] CDC. Asthma. Insurance coverage and barriers to care for people with asthma.

[7] Carrier E and Cunningham P. Medical Cost Burdens Among Nonelderly Adults with Asthma. AJMC. November 2014.

[8] Consumer Reports. Evaluating Inhaled Steroids Used to Treat: Asthma. Nov 2013.

[9] The Express Scripts Lab. The 2014 Drug Trend Report. March 2015.

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