PURPOSE OF THE STUDY.
The goal of this study was to determine the economic impact of childhood food allergy in the United States and caregivers’ willingness to pay for food allergy treatment.
The study was a cross-sectional survey of 1643 US caregivers of a child with a current food allergy.
Caregivers were asked to quantify the direct medical, out-of-pocket, lost labor productivity, and related opportunity costs. Caregivers were also asked about their willingness to pay for a theoretical “safe and effective food allergy treatment that allowed the child to eat all foods.”
The overall economic cost of food allergy was estimated at $24.8 billion annually ($4184 per year per child). Annual direct medical costs were $4.3 billion or $724 per child. Yearly costs borne by the family totaled $20.5 billion. Specifically, annual out-of-pocket costs were $5.5 billion, with 31% stemming from the cost of special foods, and annual opportunity costs totaled $14.2 billion, relating to a caregiver needing to leave or change jobs. Caregivers were willing to pay $20.8 billion annually for a theoretical effective food allergy treatment (95% confidence interval: 15.7–25.7).
Childhood food allergy in the United States incurs significant direct medical costs to the US health care system and even larger costs to families with a food-allergic child. Caregivers’ willingness to pay for a theoretical effective food allergy treatment was similar to the total costs currently borne by families associated with out-of-pocket expenses, lost labor productivity, and lost opportunity in 1 year.
As the authors indicate, this is the first study to comprehensively quantify the economic impact of childhood food allergy in the United States. Of an estimated $25 billion annual cost incurred, the most costly category was opportunity costs ($14 billion), defined as caregiver job change, restriction, or loss, which was a subjective measure based on self-report. Moreover, approximately one-quarter of the cohort surveyed was recruited from a food allergy support and advocacy organization, which may attract members who perceive food allergy as having a more significant impact on their quality of life. Nonetheless, the study highlights the considerable financial impact borne by families of children having food allergy.
- Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics