Improving Childhood Asthma Outcomes in the United States: A Blueprint for Policy Action

Improving Childhood Asthma Outcomes in the United States: A Blueprint for Policy Action

Improving Childhood Asthma Outcomes in the United States: A Blueprint for Policy Action

Improving Childhood Asthma Outcomes in the United States: A Blueprint for Policy Action

Synopsis

An estimated 5 million U.S. children have asthma. Much of the money spent on asthma is for high-cost health care services to treat acute periods of illness. May asthma attacks could be avoided--and much suffering prevented and many medical costs saved if more children received good-quality, ongoing asthma care and if the 11 policy recommendations presented in this report were implemented in a coordinated fashion. This report summarizes the findings of an effort funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as part of the Pediatric Astham Initiative, whose purpose is to address current gaps in national childhood asthma care.

Excerpt

This project was inspired by the story of one of our own patients:

Fabiola is a bright, active teenager: a good student, a cheerleader, and a member of the school choir. She is also one of an estimated 5 million American children under age 15 with asthma. Although asthma is a treatable and manageable disease, for Fabiola it was almost fatal.

Fabiola was diagnosed with asthma when she was 5. At age 10, she was referred to the county asthma clinic, where she was put on a regular program of preventive medication. Her symptoms improved dramatically for a while.

In the winter of 1997, Fabiola was hospitalized for asthma. Her working parents received a hospital bill for nearly $10,000. They did not qualify for Medicaid, and their employers did not offer insurance. They began paying the bill as best they could. However, as a result, they could no longer afford medications for Fabiola or regular checkups. Nor did they fully understand the importance of preventive care and medication. Clinic staff lost touch with Fabiola.

One night, about a year later, Fabiola stopped breathing. Fortunately, the paramedics arrived swiftly and were able to restore her breathing. She was transferred to an intensive care unit. At discharge, she was advised to return to the asthma clinic.

Back on aggressive preventive medication therapy, Fabiola's symptoms improved. Her family paid for her treatment, and clinic staff tried to get her insured. Since then, Fabiola's father has taken a new job that offers insurance coverage. Clinic staff were able to . . .

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