iLoveBenefits: Industry News Blog

Asthma Costs the U.S. Economy $81.9 Billion Annually

January 22, 2018



The American Thoracic Society recently published research on the financial burden of Asthma in the U.S. Here are some key findings from the report:


Asthma costs the U.S. economy $81.9 billion annually.
About 15.4 million people in the U.S. had treated asthma each year.
The annual per-person medical cost of asthma was $3,266.
The cost of asthma prescriptions is $1,830 per person per year.
Asthma-related mortality cost $29 billion per year, representing 3,168 deaths.
Missed work and school days combined cost $3 billion per year.



Source: American Thoracic Society, January 12, 2018

January 22, 2018 | Categories: Chronic conditions,Cost,drugs,healthcare | Tags: , , | Comments (0)

We are making progress and there are opportunities for improving health care quality and reducing health care disparities

This from my colleague and friend, Carolyn Clancy

Colleagues, I am pleased to announce that today AHRQ released our 2011 National Healthcare Quality Report and National Healthcare Disparities Report that show the progress and opportunities for improving health care quality and reducing health care disparities.

 The reports (at are designed to inform discussions among policymakers, elected officials, health care leaders, and others so they can take steps to address gaps in quality care and access to services.

 Every American should be able to receive safe and appropriate health care to help them achieve their best possible health.  While the reports show progress, such as in cardiovascular care, more work is needed to address persistent gaps in quality and access for many Americans. Overall, health care quality continues to improve at a slow rate of 2.5 percent across the measures tracked.

 Based on the approximately 250 health care measures shown in the reports, Americans on average received appropriate acute care services 80 percent of the time, recommended chronic disease management services 70 percent of the time, and preventive care services 60 percent of the time.

 New features in the 2011 National Healthcare Quality Report and National Healthcare Disparities Report include data on the adoption of electronic health record systems in hospitals as well as home health and hospice agencies, adolescent health, and musculoskeletal diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis. 

 Thank you for your continued support as we work together to help improve access to and quality of health care for all Americans.

Choose wisely: Visit


Choosing Wisely® aims to promote conversations between physicians and patients by helping patients choose care that is:

  • Supported by evidence
  • Not duplicative of other tests or procedures already received
  • Free from harm
  • Truly necessary

In response to this challenge, national organizations representing medical specialists have been asked to “choose wisely” by identifying five tests or procedures commonly used in their field, whose necessity should be questioned and discussed. The resulting lists of “Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question” will spark discussion about the need—or lack thereof—for many frequently ordered tests or treatments. Learn More.

This concept was originally piloted by the National Physicians Alliance, which, through an ABIM Foundation Putting the Charter into Practice grant created a set of three lists of specific steps physicians in internal medicine, family medicine and pediatrics could take in their practices to promote the more effective use of health care resources. These lists were first published in Archives of Internal Medicine.

Visit at:


Top 10 Medical Innovations 2011

  1. New Molecular Imaging Biomarker for Early Detection, Prevention, and Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease
  2. Anti-CTLA-4 Drug (ipilimumab), Targeted T-Cell Antibody for Metastatic Melanoma
  3. First Therapeutic Cancer Vaccine Approved by the FDA
  4. JUPITER Study, Statins for Healthy Individuals
  5. Hepatitis C Protease Inhibiting Drugs
  6. Telehealth Monitoring for Individuals with Heart Failure/Implanted Wireless Cardiac Device for Monitoring Heart Failure
  7. Endoscopic Weight-Loss Procedure Transoral Gastroplasty (TOGA)
  8. Exhaled Nitric Oxide (NO) Breath Analysis for Monitoring Asthma
  9. Oral Disease Modifying Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis
  10. Capsule Endoscopy for Diagnosis of Pediatric GI Disorder

Data Source: Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit.

Publication Source: This list was recently posted on healthsprocket, the home for health care lists.

Health Technology is Coming of Age

Top 10 Chronic Condition Management Apps

  1. GoMeals developed by Sanofi Aventis
  2. GlucoseBuddy developed by oneAppOneCause
  3. Allergy Alert developed by SDI Health
  4. Livestrong developed by Demand Media
  5. WaveSense Diabetes Manager developed by Agamatrix
  6. Diabetes Log developed by Distal Thoughts
  7. Diabetes Companion developed by dLife
  8. Diabetes Health Mobile developed by Diabetes Health
  9. hCG Diet app developed by CodeQ

10.  BloodPressure+Pulse Grapher Lite developed by Michael Hein

Note: The ten apps were the chronic condition management apps with the highest ranking in Apple’s Top 1000 for Health & Fitness

Source: Mobihealthnews, December 16, 2010

Publication Source: This list was recently posted on healthsprocket, the home for health care lists.

AHRQ: Diabetes affects many pregnant women

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality said that more than 250,000 pregnant women — or about 1 in 16 — suffered from pre-existing or gestational diabetes in 2008, which can increase the risk for premature birth or miscarriage. The agency also found that compared with healthy women who gave birth, those with pre-existing diabetes and those with gestational diabetes had 55% and 18% higher hospital costs respectively. Los Angeles Times/Booster Shots blog (12/16)

So the question is what are the actions, we as payers should take to assist the group of pregnant woman?

Pediatric and Specialty Drug Spend is Driving Health Care Inflation

Employers with prescription drug benefits should take notice that more American children are taking prescription drugs, according to the research by Medco.

In its 2010 Drug Trend Report, Medco researchers found that growth in prescription drug use among children was almost four times higher than the increase seen in the general population. The use of antipsychotic, diabetes and asthma drugs over the past nine years drove the spike.

Pharmaceutical experts point out that prescription drugs for children tend to cost more than drugs used by the elderly. “This could change the face of chronic and complex disease in the United States, significantly affecting future health care costs as these children enter adulthood,” Medco analysts explain.

Analyzing 2009 data on pediatric medication use, researchers found that more than one in four insured children in the United States, and nearly 30% of adolescents (10-19 year olds), took at least one prescription medication to treat a chronic condition.

According to the research, the drug trend among children 0-19 surged 10.8% last year, more than triple the trend for senior citizens. Utilization rose 5%, far greater than the 0.2% growth among seniors.

About 13.2% of the prescription drug benefit dollars spent on children went to ADHD treatments. Still, the biggest jump in growth occurred in adults aged 20-34, where use of ADHD drugs rose 21.2%.

Meanwhile, specialty drug spending continues to hit double-digit growth, at 14.7%, sparked by a 2.6% increase in utilization and a 12.1% jump in unit costs. Overall, drug trend increased 3.7% in 2009 because of specialty drugs.

Still, generic drugs aided in the offset of spending on high-cost, specialty drugs for rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cancer and other conditions.

Additionally, inflation for branded drugs was 9.2% in 2009, up about a full percentage point from 2008, according to the report. Prescription drug utilization, however, rose modestly at 1.3%.

Plan sponsors should try to maximize the use of generics, because it’s their best opportunity to control cost and to help manage inflation. Brand inflation was a very significant story in 2009, coming in at 9.24%, says O’Connor.

“This is the highest level of inflation we have seen, so the ability to promote generics, which were pretty much flat in terms of inflation, is really the best way for plans to manage pharmacy spending,” she adds.

Diabetes topped the list as the largest driver of drug trend, representing 16.7% of all growth in drug spending. For example, costs in the category rose by 11.1%, driven by unit-cost inflation and increased utilization.

Medco analysts also project pharmacy spending to increase up to 18% through 2012, with diabetes, oncology and rheumatology treatments serving as the leading cost drivers.

Prescription drug spending is estimated to grow 3% to 5% in 2010, eventually jumping to a rate increase of 4% to 6% the next two years – a period in which pharmacy spending for diabetes/endocrine, oncology and musculoskeletal/rheumatology treatments are expected to increase 31% to 38%, 40% to 48%, and 37% to 44%, respectively, the report notes. By the end of 2012, about $46 billion in brand drug sales will fall to generic competition.

Asthma Rates Rising Across the U.S.


By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

Editor’s note: While the story does not deal with the root causes, is it perhaps a result of increasing rates of obesity?

TUESDAY, March 2 (HealthDay News) — Asthma rates are increasing across the United States, a new government study shows, but certain states have significantly lower rates of the respiratory disease.

The overall rate of asthma is currently estimated to be 7.85 percent of the population, an increase of about 0.5 percent every three years. But, the report also found that some states have dramatically lower rates of asthma. For example, the study found that while almost 11 percent of people in Rhode Island had asthma, just 5 percent of those living in Louisiana had the illness.

March 3, 2010 | Categories: Chronic conditions,healthcare | Tags: , , | Comments (1)

What is the root cause of declining health status in children

Editor’s note: Perhaps evidence that obesity is negatively impacting the health status of our children in more ways than just being overweight.

According to a recent study of chronic health conditions in children including obesity, asthma and learning problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD:
  • The rate of chronic health conditions in children doubled from 12.8% in 1994 to 26.6% in 2006
  • 51.5% reported a chronic condition at some point during their 6-year study period
  • Only 7.4 % of the children who had a chronic condition at the start of the study still had that same condition at the end of it

Source: “Dynamics of Obesity and Chronic Health Conditions Among Children and Youth,” Journal of the American Medical Association, February 17, 2010, 

February 18, 2010 | Categories: Chronic conditions,diabetes,healthcare | Tags: , , , | Comments (0)

Sometimes Data and Perception are Not the Same

Employee Health Conditions: Sleep Problems Top Obesity Among Prevalent Health Conditions

Health Condition Proportion of Employees with Condition
Allergy 52%
Back/neck 34%
Fatigue 29%
Depression 27%
Headache 23%
High cholesterol 22%
Sleeping problems 21%
Obesity 19%
Migraine 19%
Hypertension 18%

Data Source: Integrated Benefits Institute

Publication: Employee Benefit News. January 2010.

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