Insurance Coverage is Not the Answer
MARCH 17, 2009
DENVER — It is commonly thought that lack of insurance and access to healthcare providers causes asthma patients to receive inadequate care administered primarily at the emergency room. Stanley Szefler, MD, and his colleagues at National Jewish Health discovered a very different story when they studied 728 Denver Public School students with asthma. Children with medical insurance had comparable rates of emergency care, hospital stays and use of the oral steroid prednisone for treatment of significant asthma exacerbations as did those without insurance. Notably, 58 percent of children with a physician had been to the emergency room, while only 27 percent of those without a physician had. Even though about 80 percent of the students were low-income, about 90 percent of them had insurance and a physician.
Dr. Szefler and his colleagues believe that a combination of education and better communication is the key to better asthma care. In a program known as the Denver Public School Asthma Program, they are testing that strategy to see if it will lead to better outcomes, reduced healthcare costs, and fewer disruptions to the lives of asthma patients.