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Texas Asthma Cases and Costs Increase as Awareness Month Approaches

May 4, 2012

Six Texas Communities Rank Among the Top 50 Worst Places for Allergies in the Country

Richardson, TX — New data from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) shows medical claims related to asthma are on the rise as we head into "Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month"  this May. In addition, a new report by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)  says six Texas communities are among the top fifty worst places in the country for allergies — which worsen the impact of asthma symptoms.

"Asthma, episodically, makes breathing very difficult, and while it can be treated, there is no cure," says Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, chief medical officer for BCBSTX. "Last year we processed about 6,000 more asthma-related claims than the year before — not only affecting the well-being of our members but costing approximately $10 million more dollars in medical costs that might be reduced with better treatment."

Asthma now affects one out of every 12 people in Texas. In addition to health challenges, the Texas Department of State Health Services says asthma also carries significant social and economic burdens:

  • One third of asthma-affected Texans miss work at least one day a year because of their condition.
  • One third of Texans with asthma have trouble sleeping and more than 11 percent have had trouble sleeping five nights in a row or more.
  • Children (ages 0-4) with asthma are admitted to the hospital 2-8 times more than adults with asthma.

"Asthma can be even more dangerous for those of us who live in areas with many allergens," says Laura Steves, executive director of AAFA’s Texas Chapter. "Unfortunately for Texans, many of our high-risk communities appear to be getting worse."

Top Allergy Capitals2012 Rank2011 Rank
Knoxville, TN11
San Antonio942
El Paso3454

The good news is that the Centers for Disease Control says national hospitalization rates related to asthma were down by 14 percent last year. Through its public service website, Be Smart. Be Well , BCBSTX has video testimonials and tips to help people in Texas — especially children.

"Triggers are the things that cause asthma symptoms and make breathing difficult," says Barbara Kaplan, director of asthma programs for the American Lung Association, in one video . "Some of the most common indoor asthma triggers include second-hand smoke, dust mites, mold, cockroaches, household pets, and even fuel-burning appliances."

Because they are the most susceptible and blood tests do not identify the disease, parents are encouraged to talk to a pediatrician if they think their child may have asthma.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas –– the only statewide, customer-owned health insurer in Texas — is the largest provider of health benefits in the state, working with nearly 40,000 physicians and 400 hospitals to serve 4.8 million members in all 254 counties. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation (which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in Texas, Illinois, Oklahoma and New Mexico), the country’s largest customer-owned health insurer and fourth largest health insurer overall. Health Care Service Corporation is a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
BCBSTX.com | Twitter.com/BCBSTX  | Facebook.com/BlueCrossBlueShieldOfTexas  | YouTube.com/BCBSTX 

About Be Smart. Be Well.
Be Smart. Be Well. is a free resource available to the general public. The goal of the site is to help all of us stay healthier and safer through increased awareness and simple-to-use knowledge. Additional topic centers posted on Be Smart. Be Well. Include: managing pregnancy risks, childhood obesity, caregiving, mental health, drug safety, traumatic brain injury (TBI), sexually transmitted disease, and domestic violence.
BeSmartBeWell.com  | Facebook.com/BeSmartBeWell  | Twitter.com/BSBW  | YouTube.com/BeSmartBeWell