Asthma remains a significant burden on our state, for our health care system, for employers, and for many Delawareans and their families. Because asthma is a chronic condition, it requires lifestyle changes for asthma sufferers and their families. People with asthma usually adopt a regimen of self-management, with the help of a physician. Some uses of the organized health care system - especially hospital inpatient stays and emergency room visits - may represent breakdowns in the management of asthma.
Because environmental factors can trigger asthma symptoms, efforts to reduce smoking in public environments or in the home can help reduce episodes of asthma. Continued monitoring of air quality and attempts to reduce airborne irritants also can have a widespread impact upon those with asthma and their families. Efforts to reduce other known irritants such as pet dander, dust mites, and some chemicals in homes and public places also can reduce the burden of asthma.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology estimates that the total cost of asthma in the United States — including medical expenses, medication, lost work and school days, and costs of premature death — is about $3,300 per person with asthma per year. If that estimate is accurate, the total cost of asthma in Delaware would be more than $200 million a year.
People with asthma use physicians' offices, pharmacies, hospitals, and emergency departments to meet their needs. The preferred sources of treatment are the physician and pharmacy. Appropriate use of these sources can eliminate or substantially reduce the need for emergency room visits or hospital admissions. In fact, many emergency room and inpatient asthma encounters can be viewed as provider and patient management breakdowns. Because these two service locations are the most expensive encounters, minimizing their use represents the most efficient use of the health care system.