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New evidence on patient spending for asthma-related care

Published: August 31, 2021

The amount patients pay out-of-pocket for their health care services has been increasing over the past 2 decades, in part because of increasing enrollment in high-deductible health plans. High out-of-pocket spending can lead to underuse of needed care and contribute to poor disease management and poor health outcomes. Patient spending for asthma-related care has not been well understood, and patterns of out-of-pocket spending for asthma-related care may vary for patients. Understanding the asthma-care cost burden among low-income patients could help improve access to asthma-related care.

In a new paper in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Sinaiko et al analyzed asthma-related out-of-pocket expenditures for commercially insured patients with asthma. They examined patient spending for types of asthma care, how this spending differed for patients in high-deductible health plans versus other health plans, and differences in spending for patients living in areas with many lower-income households versus for other patients.

Most patient out-of-pocket spending on asthma-related care was for medications. Patients in lower-income areas had the same amounts of annual out-of-pocket spending on asthma-related care as other patients, but they spent less each year on asthma controller medications and more on high-acuity care (i.e., emergency department and inpatient care) than other patients. Out-of-pocket spending was a greater cost burden as a percent of income for patients living in lower-income areas than those in higher-income areas. Clinicians could consider asthma-related out-of-pocket spending when making asthma management plans with patients in order to reduce cost burden while optimizing medication adherence and timely care.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

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