posted by Chris Regal, AHIP Senior Health Research Associate
on May 2, 2017
May is Asthma Awareness Month, and AHIP has a longstanding collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to raise awareness about innovative ways to control asthma. AHIP member health insurance providers are engaging consumers, providers, and community-based partners to improve asthma care, including incorporating home-based interventions into comprehensive programs.
The health insurance community has received the EPA’s National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management, the top recognition for a health plan’s efforts. Previous health insurance provider winners include Health Care Service Corporation (2017), AmeriHealth Caritas (2016) and Neighborhood Health Plan (2010). EPA’s National Environmental Leadership Award recognizes the extraordinary work being done by health plans to improve the health and well-being of people with asthma.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 24.5 million people suffer from asthma, including more than 6 million children. Asthma affects people across race, ethnicity, age, and income level, and the disease results in 1.6 million emergency department visits each year. While services provided in a doctor’s office help control and manage asthma, there are factors at home that can exacerbate the condition, such as dust, mold, pests, and second-hand smoke. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has identified these environmental issues as key to controlling asthma.
As part of a three-year cooperative agreement with the EPA, AHIP promotes best practices in asthma management that include addressing indoor environmental triggers.
For example, health plans conduct home visits and may partner with community health organizations. In some cases, health plans supply asthma patients with cleaning supplies, pillow and mattress covers, HEPA filters for vacuum cleaners, and contract with professional house cleaning companies to neutralize areas that could worsen asthma symptoms.
Health plans see the value in implementing these types of program—reduced emergency department visits, fewer missed days at school and work, and improved quality of life for patients.
Through a series of videos, learn about the various aspects of asthma management, why partnerships are important, how to keep programs sustainable, and how to gain recognition from EPA for a successful program. The videos feature interviews with health plans workers who lead asthma programs, EPA representatives, health care providers, and community health organizations. They discuss their commitment to improve care for those suffering from asthma and highlight best practices.