Do Allergies Have an Economic Impact on Families?


According to a study by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) and an article in Medical News Today, families of food allergic individuals are more likely to have financial burdens.

If you are the parent of a food allergic child, you’re more than likely not surprised. From the moment of diagnosis; the financial burden can be surprising with or without insurance. Take into consideration the following assuming a patient has insurance:

1. Copay for allergist visits and expensive allergy testing. $0 to $40 or more.

2. Copay for an Epi-Pen (emergency life saving medication). Many parents have a minimum of two or more. $0-$50 or more.

3. Other prescription medications for allergies or asthma inhalers and over the counter medications such as Benadryl, Claritin or Zyrtec. $0 to $50 or more.

4. Special food preparation and purchase of safe foods and cooking ingredients. A single box of cookies can cost upwards of $6 or more, more than double the cost of an average box of cookies.

5. Membership and support from support groups or therapy on dealing with the emotional impact of living with food allergies.

The above items are more than likely not a one time expense and just a start in living with and managing food allergies. Many families have an average insurance copay of $20-$40, and many more have no insurance at all. Then there is the issue of school and childcare.

Currently many schools and day care centers across the country do not have allergy experience, epi-pen training, or policies in regards to how to manage children with food allergies. There are very few laws that protect children with life threatening food allergies and even fewer schools that know about or follow these laws.

Take a quick peek into allergy support forums across the Internet and you’ll find a large amount of families with food allergic children that choose to home school. One small study conducted by a team of researchers affiliated with the University of Maryland Hospital for Children found that 10% of food allergic families home school. Compare that to the overall 2% of US children that are home schooled and the difference is staggering.

Homeschooling means that many families dealing with food allergies live on one income. Combine that with the higher cost of living with food allergies and tough economic times and it’s clear that managing and living with food allergies has an extreme economic impact on families.