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The medical expenditures attributable to asthma

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on June 10th, 2020

Patients with asthma have trouble affording the higher and higher co-pays for medicines. Although it's essential to treat the condition early in order to prevent serious health complications, many asthma sufferers with limited resources are cutting their medication in half to stretch out the prescription because they just cannot afford to have it refilled.

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Asthma is a long-term inflammatory disease of the airways of the lungs. It is now generally accepted that inhalation of certain irritants in the workplace, such as dust, gases, fumes, and vapors, can play a role in the development of asthma. If you have been exposed to asbestos in the past, you may be at an increased risk of developing asthma because the weakening of the lungs will make you more susceptible to developing this condition.

Asthma caused by work can be divided into two categories:

  • Occupational asthma - occupations that entailed exposure to chemical fumes, gases, dust or other potentially harmful substances cause this long-term inflammatory disease.
  • Asthma that is aggravated by work - some highly dangerous substances - such as asbestos, can be acutely irritating to the lungs and respiratory system, and inhalation of these substances can trigger reactions in individuals with pre-existing conditions. For example, inhalation of asbestos fibers exacerbates the symptoms of asthma.

Patients with chronic diseases like asthma often face financial barriers to health service access. These financial barriers are related to:

  • Direct healthcare costs such as medication or/and hospital stays which can include many types of costs such as tests and procedures as well as doctor visits and consults with specialists.
  • Indirect costs such as transportation to medical appointments or treatment centers

Based on a pooled sample, the researchers determined that annual healthcare costs per person diagnosed with severe asthma, expressed in U.S. dollars, was $3,266. Of that, $1,830 was for prescriptions, $640 for office visits, $529 for hospitalizations, $176 for hospital outpatient visits, and $105 for emergency room care.

The costs of asthma tend to increase over time as disease control decreases

Asthma can gradually exacerbate over time, even if you're following your treatment plan, and doing everything you're supposed to do. Asthma is a costly disease because it tends to present as a lifelong condition, with different severity degrees throughout the patient's life.

  • Asthma attacks or episodes may require emergency treatment - the cost of asthma in the emergency department (ED) or hospital can range from $400 to a staggering $28,000.
  • In many cases, a severe, persistent asthma attack requires invasive mechanical ventilation - the daily incremental cost of mechanical ventilation for ICU patients is estimated at between $600 and $1500 per day.
  • Bronchial thermoplasty could be considered as another option in the treatment of severe, uncontrolled asthma patients - estimated cost of S$25,000 per treatment episode

Several studies suggest that chronic inflammation in the lungs due to asthma may be a risk factor for the development of lung cancer

Workers who directly handled asbestos-containing products and military veterans exposed to asbestos during their service may be at an increased risk for developing asthma because the inhaled fibers can leave the lungs permanently scarred.

Asthma that is caused by breathing in hazardous substances in the workplace, can lead to an increased risk of lung scarring. This stage of asthma is irreversible i.e. it cannot be reversed with medications. Chronic inflammation and tissue scarring, as a result of asbestos fibers lodged in the lungs, have an important role in cancer development. Thus, asbestos-induced chronic inflammation, in conditions such as asthma, might lead to lung cancer development.

If your asthma was triggered or aggravated by exposure to asbestos during active duty, there's a good chance you will receive compensation

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers benefits to former service members who received an honorable or general discharge. From the 1930s until the 1970s, the military used asbestos in its buildings, aircraft, and navy ships, exposing thousands of service members.

Although veterans can get VA disability benefits for service-connected asthma symptoms, they often have trouble getting the VA to properly rate their disorder or even service-connect the disability at all. We can help you establish a proper VA rating for asthma because we know that being chronically ill is a continuous process of balancing the demands of the illness and the demands of everyday life.