The statistics gathered over the last several years present an alarming picture of asthma. In the United States, nearly 15 million people have asthma -- almost 5 million of those people are children. According to the statistics on asthma, children have it more often than adults, and blacks have it more often than whites. Perhaps the most startling statistics have to do with the economic impact of the condition, which accounts for an estimated $12.7 billion annually.
In the United States, about 15 million people have asthma. Nearly 5 million of them are children. Asthma is closely linked to allergies. Most, but not all, people with asthma also have allergies. Children with a family history of allergies and asthma are more likely to have asthma.
Although asthma affects people of all ages, it often starts in childhood and is more common in children than adults. More boys have asthma than girls, but in adulthood, more women have asthma than men.
Although asthma is a problem among all races, blacks have more asthma attacks and are more likely than whites to be hospitalized for asthma attacks and to die from asthma.
In 1998, asthma in the United States accounted for an estimated $12.7 billion annually. Direct medical expenditures accounted for most of the costs, with medications the single largest cost component. Indirect costs, especially lost work days, also represented an important social effect.
According to a study reported in 2003, the estimate of total per-person annual costs of asthma averaged $4,912, with direct and indirect costs accounting for $3,180 (65 percent) and $1,732 (35 percent), respectively. The largest components within direct costs were:
- Pharmaceuticals ($1,605, or 50 percent)
- Hospital admissions ($463, or 15 percent)
- Nonemergency department ambulatory visits ($342, or 11 percent).
Within indirect costs, total cessation of work accounted for $1,062 (61 percent), and the loss of entire work days among those accounted for another $486 (28 percent). Total per-person costs were $2,646, $4,530, and $12,813 for people self-reporting mild, moderate, and severe asthma, respectively.