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New Study Finds ‘Best Practice’ Asthma Program Saves U.S. Health Care System More than $4500 a Year per Child

by Roy Grant, MA, Director of Research, Children's Health Fund

Asthma is a huge problem in this country…nine million US children are diagnosed with asthma including more than two million who are living in poverty.  In inner city communities, asthma is the leading cause of hospital emergency department visits – as is the case here in New York City.  In fact, the South Bronx has one of the highest asthma prevalence rates in NYC and the country. Rates are even higher in high-risk populations like the homeless. Nearly 32% of the children living in New York City homeless or domestic violence shelters have asthma. 

In 1997, to increase access to health care and improve management of chronic asthma for thousands of medically underserved children and families, Children’s Health Fund’s launched a Childhood Asthma Initiative in New York City. It is currently implemented in CHF’s New York City and Washington, D.C. programs.  Over the years, we’ve worked to track the success of the initiative and its effectiveness in helping children and families control their asthma.  In a new study I worked on with CHF President Irwin Redlener MD and a team that included Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University and Montefiore Medical Center, we are reporting some important data that shows the effectiveness of this ‘best practice’ asthma program.

The study, which was published in a special supplement of theJournal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, found thatwith the use of a ‘best-practice’ asthma intervention program in primary care for inner-city medically underserved children, the health care system saves more than $4500 per child with asthma – or $11 saved for every dollar spent.  Treatment according to best-practice guidelines significantly reduced hospitalization and emergency room visits for asthma. The severity of asthma symptoms was reduced, including night-time symptoms that disrupt a child’s sleep and may interfere with school performance.

The findings from our study are powerful and show the health benefits and phenomenal cost savings associated with ‘best practice’ asthma treatment.  You can read more about the findings in the press release about the study.