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Children with asthma, and other pre-existing health problems, have long been discriminated against when it comes to receiving adequate health insurance coverage. Lack of Florida health insurance among children has been well documented along with dire consequences.

That problem has been specifically addressed in health care reform. Unfortunately, confusion over changes to health care in the U.S. continue, including debate over how health insurers may treat children with pre-existing health problems like asthma.

What Does Health Care Reform Do For Children With Asthma?

As the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius may have the last word on this subject. In March of 2010, Sebelius directly addressed the issue in a letter to America’s Health Insurance Plans. After noting that the media had reported that certain insurance companies hoped to find ways around the section of the new law that specifically prohibited insurers from excluding children with pre-existing conditions from coverage, she stated the following.

According to Sebelius, “Health insurance reform is designed to prevent any child from being denied coverage because he or she has a pre-existing condition…To ensure that there is no ambiguity on this point, I am preparing to issue regulations in the weeks ahead ensuring that the term “pre-existing condition exclusion” applies to both a child’s access to a plan and to his or her benefits once he or she is in the plan. These regulations will further confirm that beginning in September, 2010: Children with pre-existing conditions may not be denied access to their parents’ health insurance plan; Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to insure a child, but exclude treatments for that child’s pre-existing condition.”

Her letter also lamented that “For too long, parents across the country have struggled as pre-existing conditions have prevented their children from accessing affordable, stable health insurance coverage. Health insurance reform eliminates this tremendous source of worry and helps ensure children have the care they need.” September 2010 marks the beginning of increased protection through health insurance in Florida for children, and those suffering with asthma may be seeing additional help in the future.

Does Smoking Contribute To Asthma?

Scientists long ago demonstrated that second-hand smoke hurt people, especially children, who suffered from asthma by increasing the incidence and severity of their asthma attacks. Following a 2006 ban on smoking in all enclosed public and work places in Scotland, researchers have now reported a decline in hospital admissions for childhood asthma.

Before the Smoking, Health and Social Care Act was passed, children were being admitted for asthma at a rate that was increasing by 5.2 percent a year. After the new law passed, investigators found that on average such admissions fell by as much as 18.2 percent every year. A decline in these admissions occurred among both preschool and school-age children. The ban even sparked an increase in voluntary reduction of smoking in Scotland homes.

What Are U.S. Researchers Saying About Smoking and Asthma?

Some researchers look forward to similar benefits here in the United States. As chief of the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Denver’s National Jewish Health, Dr. E. Rand Sutherland says, “The findings are a confirmation of the beneficial effect of reducing the exposure of children to environmental tobacco smoke.”

He continues that “The study also suggests, importantly, that children [and not just adults] can be the beneficiaries of smoke-free policies which target the workplace and public spaces.”

What about smoking in the home? Researchers have attributed in excess of 200,000 episodes of asthma striking children in the U.S. each year from their parents smoking.

At Pennsylvania State University, investigators calculated that we could see a $1.26 return for every dollar used to help people stop smoking from the resulting reduced medical costs of smokers’ victims. The benefits would not only cut premature deaths caused by smoking, but would also increase productivity on the job.

Post Author: Lisa Sharon