More than two million Australians with asthma can save money and feel better by following ten easy tips issued today by the National Asthma Council Australia.
Whilst medication costs can put a strain on family budgets there are also rising concerns that those with the chronic condition are not getting effective management, adding to hospital and other costs.
A James Cook University Study found that adults with asthma spent more than double on household out-of-pocket healthcare than those with no health condition. The researchers also found more than one-third of people with asthma could not afford the treatment they needed.
National Asthma Council Australia Director and pharmacist, Stephen Hughes said that asthma costs can be a significant monthly burden as medications are required to be taken regularly. However, he said that asthma can be kept under control with less of a bite being taken out of the pocket.
“When you are feeling well, it is easy to rationalise skipping doses of medication to save money. What is well known is that taking your preventer regularly helps to keep you at work and out of hospital. Preventers also save lives and reduce your risk of dying from asthma. But they are most effective when they are used regularly.”
Last year The Hidden Cost of Asthma report by Deloitte Access Economics showed that people with asthma took two more sick days each year than the average worker. The report calculated that carers for those with asthma lost $72.9m in wages in 2015.
Mr Hughes recommended that Australians with asthma ask their pharmacist for advice on how they can maximise the benefits of what they are paying for.
The National Asthma Council Australia’s top ten tips for saving money with asthma are:
1. Try to take your preventer each day as per your asthma action plan
It will be cheaper in the long run – fewer medical bills, reliever scripts and days off work or school. If you don't have an up-to-date action plan, ask your doctor.
2. Have an asthma review
Ask your doctor to review your asthma and your medication. If your asthma is going well, you may even be able to step back to a lower dose.
3. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about costs
Some medications are more expensive than others. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about medicine costs. There may be an alternative such as a generic medicine.
4. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to check your inhaler technique
You may be wasting medication. Nine out of ten people aren’t getting the full dose from their inhalers, even those who have been using asthma puffers for years. Getting your technique right could mean each reliever puffer lasts longer and you need to buy less.
5. Use a spacer with your puffer
When you use a spacer with your puffer you get up to 30 per cent more out of each dose than using a puffer alone. A puffer with a spacer works just as well as a nebuliser but is simpler and cheaper.
6. Get a flu shot
Many asthma flare-ups are caused by colds and flu viruses. Flu vaccinations are free for the over 65’s and people with severe asthma, so see your doctor or pharmacist to schedule a shot this autumn.
7. Read the fine print on insurance
Check the fine print of your health insurance. Shop around for the best cover for your needs. Also, check travel insurance policies carefully to make sure they cover your situation.
8. Know your nose
An itchy, runny or blocked nose due to allergies can make your asthma harder to control, leading to more or stronger medication. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about clearing your nose – a (free) regular saline rinse could be all your nose needs.
9. Eat right
Don’t pay extra for dairy-free or gluten-free foods if you don’t have a diagnosed allergy or intolerance. There’s no evidence that avoiding dairy foods or taking supplements will improve asthma. If you are overweight, losing 5 or 10 kilos can improve your asthma significantly, meaning fewer symptoms and less medication.
10. Think again about stopping smoking
We all know smoking makes asthma worse but less known is that smoking reduces the effectiveness of asthma inhalers. On top of rising cigarette prices, you could be paying for extra medication that doesn’t work as well.
In November 2015, The Hidden Cost of Asthma report by Deloitte Access Economics found that the direct healthcare costs of asthma are $1.2bn, nearly double the $680 million cost in 2008-09. A further $24.7 billion in annual costs is attributed to disability and premature death, with more than 400 people dying from the disease each year.
For further information, or to arrange an interview with a National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson, please contact:
The Reputation Group
Tel: 03 9645 7755
Email: [email protected]