The New York Times continues its "US health care costs are way higher than the rest of the world" series (see previously here and here) with a look at the most common chronic disease in America: asthma. According to the Times, it's becoming an increasingly pricey affliction to have in this country, even for those with health care. One steroid inhaler that costs $175 here costs $20 in Britain—and is given out free to asthma sufferers. A prescription for one nasal spray costs Americans up to $250 a month, but Europeans get it for $7 over the counter.
The more the costs go up, the more American asthma sufferers skimp on medicines—resulting in avoidable hospital visits and sometimes death. The CDC says 3,300 people died from asthma last year—often unnecessarily. "The thing is that asthma is so fixable," says one doctor. "All people need is medicine and education." So why are the costs skyrocketing? One big reason is that the government banned chlorofluorocarbon propellants a few years back. Pharma companies had to design new inhalers, which they patented, knocking generics out of the market. And that's the way they'd like it to stay. Click through to read the full report. (Read more asthma stories.)