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Costs of asthma in the United States: 2002-2007

      Background

      The economic burden of asthma is an important measure of the effect of asthma on society. Although asthma is a costly illness, the total cost of asthma to society has not been estimated in more than a decade.

      Objective

      The purpose of this study is to provide the public with current estimates of the incremental direct medical costs and productivity losses due to morbidity and mortality from asthma at both the individual and national levels for the years 2002-2007.

      Methods

      Data came from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Two-part models were used to estimate the incremental direct costs of asthma. The incremental number of days lost from work and school was estimated by negative binomial regressions and valued following the human capital approach. Published data were used to value lives lost with an underlying cause of asthma.

      Results

      Over the years 2002-2007, the incremental direct cost of asthma was $3,259 (2009 dollars) per person per year. The value of additional days lost attributable to asthma per year was approximately $301 for each worker and $93 for each student. For the most recent year available, 2007, the total incremental cost of asthma to society was $56 billion, with productivity losses due to morbidity accounting for $3.8 billion and productivity losses due to mortality accounting for $2.1 billion.

      Conclusion

      The current study finds that the estimated costs of asthma are substantial, which stresses the necessity for research and policy to work toward reducing the economic burden of asthma.

      Key Words

      Abbreviations used:

      GLM (Generalized linear model), ICD-9-CM (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification), MEPS (Medical Expenditure Panel Survey)
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