May is Asthma Awareness Month and US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is asking citizens to consider what they can do to help manage one of the nation’s most chronic and costly diseases.
More than 25 million Americans have the disease, according to a news release issued this week by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Among the national costs associated with asthma are annual medical expenses estimated at $50 billion and 10 million missed school days (2008).
Sebelius reminded Americans that they can help by knowing the warning signs of an asthma attack, avoiding anything that might trigger an episode and adhering to the advice of health care providers.
The HHS announcement detailed four asthma-related developments:
- Under the Affordable Care Act, children with asthma cannot be denied health coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition. Adults with asthma will receive the same protection in 2014.
- The health care law and Recovery Act invests in expanded capacity for community health centers to care for the most vulnerable Americans, regardless of their ability to pay.
- The CDC works with schools and communities to make indoor and outdoor environments healthier for children with asthma.
- The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program promotes an outreach effort to create written action plans to promote improved asthma care and control.