Objectives: We compared direct medical costs borne by the health care system and out-of-pocket costs borne by families for children with food allergy by socioeconomic characteristics.
Methods: We analyzed cross-sectional survey data collected between November 2011 and January 2012 from 1643 US caregivers with a food-allergic child. We used a 2-part regression model to estimate mean costs and identified differences by levels of household income and race or ethnicity.
Results: Children in the lowest income stratum incurred 2.5 times the amount of emergency department and hospitalization costs as a result of their food allergy than higher-income children ($1021, SE ±$209, vs $416, SE ±$94; P < .05). Costs incurred for specialist visits were lower in the lowest income group ($228, SE ±$21) compared with the highest income group ($311, SE ±$18; P < .01) as was spending on out-of-pocket medication costs ($117, SE ± $26, lowest income; $366, SE ±$44, highest income; P < .001). African American caregivers incurred the lowest amount of direct medical costs and spent the least on out-of-pocket costs, with average adjusted costs of $493 (SE ±$109) and $395 (SE ±$452), respectively.
Conclusions: Disparities exist in the economic impact of food allergy based on socioeconomic status. Affordable access to specialty care, medications, and allergen-free foods are critical to keep all food-allergic children safe, regardless of income and race.
Copyright © 2016 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.