'Obamacare' helps many with asthma, allergies breathe easier

Oct. 11, 2013 at 10:28 PM
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MCLEAN, Va., Oct. 11 (UPI) -- A U.S. patient education organization says the Affordable Care Act will help many Americans with asthma and allergies to breathe easier.

Tonya Winders, chief operating officer of the Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics in McLean, Va., said the health insurance Marketplaces, which opened for enrollment on Oct. 1 contain elements that pertain to those with chronic asthma and allergies, while others go into effect Jan. 1, 2014.

"Under the Affordable Care Act, many patients with allergies or asthma will breathe easier," Winders said in a statement. "They are more likely to obtain cost-effective and much-needed preventive, primary and specialty care services."

One-in-12 American, about 25 million, have asthma.

"We don't know why asthma rates are rising, we do know that most people with asthma can control their symptoms and prevent asthma attacks by avoiding asthma triggers and correctly using prescribed medicines, such as inhaled corticosteroids," the Centers for Disease Control said on its website. "The number of people diagnosed with asthma grew by 4.3 million from 2001-09. Asthma was linked to 3,447 deaths in 2007. U.S. asthma costs grew from about $53 billion in 2002 to about $56 billion in 2007."

Key provisions of the Affordable Care Act involving asthma and allergies include:

-- Health insurance companies cannot arbitrarily cancel health insurance due to a chronic illness, such as asthma, or high use of healthcare, such as immunotherapy.

-- Doctor-recommended allergy and asthma screenings and tests are covered under all plans at no extra cost to patients.

-- Patients who do not have employer provided health insurance can buy individual health insurance policies that go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, that cannot charge more for pre-existing conditions.

-- Parents can purchase health benefits for children without being denied or paying significantly more due to pre-existing conditions.

-- Lifetime dollar caps for all health insurance policies are now illegal and annual caps will be eliminated Jan. 1, 2014.

Read more about healthcare reform and its impact on allergy and asthma patients in Allergy & Asthma Today, AANMA's quarterly magazine in November.

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