Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that can have a significant impact on individuals, including reduced quality of life, increased healthcare utilization, and lost productivity.
Self-insured employers should pay attention to asthma as it affects a considerable proportion of the workforce and can result in significant direct and indirect costs. In this article, we will explore the burden of asthma on employees, the direct and indirect costs of uncontrolled asthma, and the role of programs like Nightingale in controlling asthma costs.
The Burden of Asthma on Employees
Asthma is a prevalent chronic condition, affecting approximately 25 million people in the United States, according to the CDC. The burden of asthma can be significant for individuals, with symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath interfering with daily activities and reducing quality of life. Employees with asthma may also experience frequent asthma exacerbations, which can result in missed workdays, reduced productivity, and increased healthcare utilization.
In addition to the direct impact on employees, asthma can also have indirect effects on employers. Asthma-related absenteeism and decreased productivity can result in significant financial costs for self-insured employers, affecting both the employee and the company’s bottom line. Therefore, self-insured employers should take an active role in addressing asthma in the workplace to improve the health and well-being of their employees and control healthcare costs.
Direct Costs of Uncontrolled Asthma
Uncontrolled asthma can result in significant direct costs, including healthcare expenses like hospitalization, emergency department visits, and medications. According to a study published in the Journal of Asthma, the average annual direct medical costs for individuals with uncontrolled asthma were $3,266, while individuals with controlled asthma had average annual costs of $1,861.
Asthma-related hospitalizations can also be costly, with an average cost of $13,483 per hospitalization, according to a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Hospitalization rates for asthma have decreased in recent years, but individuals with uncontrolled asthma remain at increased risk of hospitalization.
Comparing the Costs of Uncontrolled Asthma to Diabetes
The cost of uncontrolled asthma may be comparable to that of other chronic conditions like diabetes. A study published in the Journal of Asthma and Allergy found that the average annual direct medical costs for individuals with uncontrolled asthma were similar to those with uncontrolled diabetes, at $3,266 and $3,469, respectively.
However, asthma-related indirect costs, such as absenteeism and decreased productivity, may be more significant than those associated with diabetes. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that employees with asthma had significantly more missed workdays and reduced productivity than employees without asthma. Therefore, addressing asthma in the workplace may have a more substantial impact on overall costs than addressing other chronic conditions.
Asthma’s Impact on Employees’ Children
Parental asthma is a known risk factor for childhood asthma, and children with asthma may require more healthcare utilization and missed school days. Therefore, addressing asthma in the workplace may have broader benefits for employees’ families.
According to a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, parental asthma was associated with a 1.9-fold increased risk of childhood asthma. Children with asthma may require more healthcare utilization and missed school days, resulting in significant indirect costs for their parents.
The Role of Nightingale in Controlling Asthma Costs
One way self-insured employers can help control the costs associated with asthma is through programs like Nightingale. Combining the proprietary wearable lung monitor, ADAMM, with predictive symptom analytics, telemed access to Respiratory Therapists, and personalized improvement plans, it is proven to work.
The platform has been shown to be effective in improving asthma control and reducing healthcare utilization. A study published in the European Respiratory Journal found that the use of ADAMM was associated with improved asthma control and reduced asthma-related emergency department visits.
By promoting early intervention and better asthma management, ADAMM can potentially reduce healthcare utilization, improve employee productivity, and decrease overall asthma-related costs for self-insured employers. Additionally, ADAMM can help employees better manage their asthma, leading to improved quality of life and reduced healthcare costs over the long term.
Bringing it All Together
Self-insured employers should pay attention to asthma in the workplace, as it is a common chronic condition that can result in significant healthcare utilization, absenteeism, and lost productivity among employees. Uncontrolled asthma can result in substantial direct and indirect costs, which may be comparable to those associated with other chronic conditions like diabetes.
Addressing asthma in the workplace may have broader benefits for employees’ families, as parental asthma is a known risk factor for childhood asthma. Programs like ADAMM can help self-insured employers and corporate wellness programs control the costs associated with asthma by promoting early intervention and better asthma management. By improving asthma control and reducing healthcare utilization, self-insured employers can improve the health and well-being of their employees and reduce healthcare costs over the long term.
Respiratory Therapy & Remote Monitoring: A Long-Term Solution
Respiratory Therapy combined with remote monitoring is a proven method for managing and reducing the symptoms of Asthma and COPD. Studies show that Respiratory Therapy works as well as or better than other approaches and has effects that last even after the therapy is done, reducing the long tail of costs while developing a healthier and happier workforce.
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