New report finds asthma adds 50 cents to every health care dollar spent on children with asthma


WASHINGTON, D.C., February 23, 2010 – Researchers from the George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Services (GW) said today that unmanaged asthma is on the rise in America and released new data on the magnitude of the health insurance crisis that affects children with surging treatment costs for asthma, a largely manageable and chronic disease.

A new report from GW, Changing pO2licy: The Elements for Improving Childhood Asthma Outcomes, found that asthma adds about 50 cents to every health care dollar spent on children with asthma compared to children without asthma. Those most at risk – low income, medically underserved, and African-American and Hispanic children – have the least access to preventive care and the most visits to the ER.

“Childhood asthma presents one of the nation’s starkest examples of what is wrong with the health care system. Even as more than one million children with asthma lack coverage, the nation is squandering health care dollars on costly treatment while missing key prevention opportunities,” said Sara Rosenbaum, JD, Chair of GW’s, Department of Health Policy and colead author of the new report. “To date, the knowledge, programs and infrastructure America has amassed about childhood asthma is like an unassembled puzzle. We have the pieces; it’s time that we put them together.”

The report, supported by the Merck Childhood Asthma Network, Inc., (MCAN) and the RCHN Community Health Foundation (RCHN CHF), is the result of a year-long investigation into America’s childhood asthma problem to discover why the country has not benefitted more from what is known about asthma, the single most common chronic disease among children.

GW researchers found that of the 1.17 million children with asthma estimated to be uninsured, 600,000 are estimated to be eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Another 180,000 children with asthma would be eligible for coverage if all states were to increase coverage to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, as seven states already do. With these two simple steps, America could reduce the number of uninsured children with asthma by 75 percent.

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