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October 10, 2018

April Presnell
(414) 272-6071

DCE Expands Insurance Coverage, Reduces Cost Barriers for Asthma Patients

New study suggests young adults with asthma who remain on parental health plans until age 26 experience increased health insurance coverage and decreased financial obstacles to health care.   

MILWAUKEE, WI – A new study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, an official journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), reports increased health care coverage and reduced cost barriers to health care for asthma sufferers utilizing the Dependent Coverage Extension (DCE).

“While research has begun to filter in concerning the impact of DCE on health care usage among young adults, until now data specific to asthma patients has been unavailable,” said first author Joy Hsu, MD, MS. “We’ve only just started to understand the effects the DCE has had on people with asthma. Further research could help us better understand the influence the Affordable Care Act has had on people with asthma and their treatment options.”

The study, performed by Hsu and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health, focused on adults with current asthma between the ages of 19 and 32; adults aged 19 to 25 were affected by the DCE while those aged 26 to 32 acted as the comparison group. The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) was utilized to complete the study. Data from 2006 to 2009 (before DCE implementation) and data from 2011 to 2016 (after DCE implementation) were analyzed.

The responses to two BRFSS questions were used for the purpose of this study: “Do you have any kind of health care coverage, including health insurance, prepaid plans such as HMOs, or government plans such as Medicare?” and “Was there a time in the past 12 months when you needed to see a doctor but could not because of cost?” Analysis of the latter question included two subanalyses; one analysis focused on insured adults with current asthma while the other focused on uninsured adults with current asthma. The study results were compiled based on 48,194 survey responses.

In 2006 to 2009 adults with current asthma aged 19 to 25 years were less likely to report health insurance coverage than those aged 26 to32. After DCE was implemented, the data from 2011 to 2016 shows that adults with current asthma aged 19 to 25 years were more likely to report health coverage than adults aged 26 to 32 years.  

Additionally, the study divulges that from 2011 to 2016, the population group covered by the DCE noted fewer cost barriers to medical care than the comparison group. This is in stark contrast to data recorded from 2006 to 2009 when there were no significant differences reported across age groups regarding cost of care. This pattern was consistent across the subanalysis restricted to insured adults, though differences were less prominent among uninsured adults with current asthma.

This study is a first step in understanding the potential effects of the Affordable Care Act on young adults with asthma. Its methods and results could be used to inform future studies on how this national policy change has affected people with asthma.

Additional information about asthma treatments and management can be found at the AAAAI’s website,

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has nearly 7,000 members in the United States, Canada and 72 other countries. The AAAAI’s Find an Allergist/Immunologist service is a trusted resource to help you find a specialist close to home.


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