While children with persistent asthma symptoms are treated similarly regardless of insurance status, insured children with intermittent symptoms are more likely than uninsured children to be diagnosed and receive treatment, suggesting insuring more asthmatic children is unlikely to result in treatment cost savings.
It is known that insuring kids with asthma can improve outcomes. But there has been little study of the relationship between children’s insurance status and the diagnosis and treatment of asthma, a question that has cost implications as health insurance is expanded to cover more children. This study used a national sample of 11,714 children under the age of 18, derived from a population-based survey of U.S. households. Eleven percent of the sample was uninsured; 10 percent had an asthma diagnosis; 87 percent reported no symptoms; 5 percent reported intermittent symptoms; and 8 percent reported persistent symptoms.
These results suggest that, while asthmatic children may be better diagnosed and treated when they are insured, insuring these children does not save money by reducing the need for acute care. The study also suggests there may be many undiagnosed asthmatic children. The authors conclude it is probably unrealistic to anticipate that insuring more children with asthma will result in treatment cost savings.