Taking on Asthma

Children and their families are better able to manage asthma, reduce ER visits and hospital stays, and lower health care costs utilizing a program from BCBSIL and the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest.

Understand. Manage. Enjoy Life

Breathe in. Breathe out. Smell the roses. Easy, right?

Not so easy for everyone. There are millions of Americans, including 6.1 million children, who have difficulty breathing. A tight feeling in their chest, shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing are unfortunately the norm for people with asthma.

Asthma is a life-threatening disease. It’s important that people with asthma understand their triggers and risk factors to manage their condition. Respiratory infections, allergens, odors, smoking and even exercise can trigger changes in the airways, irritating the lungs. This causes an asthma attack, episode or flare-up. Allergy testing through a health care provider can help people with asthma know their triggers and identify simple solutions that may reduce or avoid flare-ups. The better people manage their asthma, the more they are able to enjoy life.

Improving Outcomes

Primary care health centers with populations of at-risk children with unmanaged and uncontrolled asthma participated in the Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma project. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) and the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest (ALAUM) created the effort.

The project trained providers, nurses and medical assistants at physician offices, school-based clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers and other primary care clinics on the latest asthma treatments and best practices. It also provided resources such as medical equipment that measures airway inflammation to monitor the status of a patient’s condition. Children and their families received educational training recommended by the asthma guidelines of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The training included learning what their triggers are, how to take their medication and what to do when they have trouble breathing.

Asthma is the most prevalent chronic illness among children. - Dr. Felicia Fuller, American Lung Association

Project Outcomes

  • 65 percent condition improvement within 12 months of participating in the program
  • 75 percent improvement after 18 months of participation
  • 53 percent reduction in asthma-related visits to an emergency room
  • 60 percent reduction in hospitalizations

Health Care Service Corporation, the parent company of BCBSIL, received the 2016 Corporate Citizenship Award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation for the asthma project. The Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma program was part of HCSC’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Families ® initiative, a community investment program committed to identifying innovative ways to address health care needs where we live, work and play. The project was also rolled out in the other states where HCSC operates – Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Learn more about the American Lung Association.