Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma

The Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma project will work with a total of 15 clinics over the course of three years. Participating clinics will engage in a year-long training program that focuses on improving guidelines-based asthma care at their clinic. This innovative process will better identify communities that would significantly benefit from these services, resulting in improved health outcomes for those patients who are affected by asthma. The American Lung Association in Illinois is currently recruiting clinics based on BCBS’s proprietary claims information, targeting areas with the highest rate of asthma-related claims.

Nearly (9.8%) percent of Illinois’s children have asthma, according to survey data from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control and Prevention (CDC). Asthma is the leading chronic illness among children and the number one cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness. The average yearly cost of care for a child with asthma is $1,039, but this number can quickly increase if a child with poorly controlled asthma ends up in the hospital or emergency department. This joint initiative will empower more medical providers, caregivers and those afflicted with asthma with the education and resources they need to enhance their knowledge of asthma signs, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Asthma exacerbations tend to increase in the fall with children back in school. Common triggers for these exacerbations include viral infections, mold, dust, exercise, strong odors in cleaning supplies, and emotions. If you have not already completed the back-to-school checklist for children with asthma – it is not too late. Having a plan to manage your child’s asthma will help your child in the classroom and out of the emergency department.

  • Asthma check-up with your child’s doctor - ensure your child's asthma continues to be effectively controlled and evaluate medications and physical activity.
  • Get an updated Asthma Action Plan - even if your child's asthma is well managed, Asthma Action Plans should be updated each school year.
  • Give a copy of the Asthma Action Plan to your School Nurse
  • Get a flu shot - Influenza poses a special health risk to children with asthma, as these children often experience more severe symptoms.
  • Visit Your Child's Teachers and Activity Coordinators - Discuss your child's specific triggers and typical symptoms so they can be prepared to assist your child should he/she have an exacerbation.
  • Know About Prescription Assistance Services: Don't let cost of medicines be the reason your child doesn't get the necessary treatment to control their asthma. Talk to your local healthcare provider about low-cost or no-coast options that may be available to you. Three organizations are available to help:
  • The Partnership for Prescription Assistance can be reached by calling 1-888-4PPA-NOW.
  • Rx Outreach also provides information on their website: www.rxoutreach.com.
  • Patient Services Incorporated: http://www.uneedpsi.org/cms400min/index.aspx.
  • Most Pharmaceutical companies offer prescription assistance programs as well.

Since 2006, the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest (ALAUM) has partnered with health providers at more than 60 clinics in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota to develop the model for the new initiative. The “Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma Project” is the ALAUM’s first major collaborative initiative with the American Lung Associations in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

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For additional information on asthma and children, visit www.lungil.org or call the Lung Helpline at 1-800-LUNG-USA.