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Will my health insurance cover asthma inhalers?

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Here's what you need to know...
  • Asthma is a serious medication condition
  • Asthma inhalers should be thought of as life-saving devices
  • Health insurance companies cover most types of asthma inhalers

If the asthma inhaler requires a specific spacer, or if a spacer is available with the inhaler, it could be covered by your health insurance under the pharmacy benefit.

If the prescribed medication is not included in your prescription plan, talk to your doctor for an alternative medication or ask for assistance in securing insurance coverage.

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Does Medicare cover asthma inhalers?

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Medicare and Medicaid insurance plans still cover albuterol inhalers. Portable and home nebulizers are both covered by health insurance companies under durable medical equipment.

However, most health insurance providers often require you to use an approved supplier for these.

It is advisable to check first with your insurance company before renting or purchasing nebulizers to ensure it is covered. Some health insurance companies may offer assistance in making arrangements with suppliers.

HFA inhalers are still covered by insurance, but you will need to pay more because the co-pays for branded medications are much higher than the generic co-pays are.

For those who do not have health insurance, you should ask for a doctor’s assistance in obtaining inhalers.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a breathing problem and is characterized by noisy breathing such as wheezing or panting. Breathing is difficult because the airway becomes inflamed or gets tighter because of the excess mucus produced by the body.

Primary symptoms of asthma include coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing. If left untreated, a serious asthma attack could possibly lead to death.

What are asthma inhalers?

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They are hand-held portable device that send medicine directly into the lungs. Based on a New England Journal of Medicine study, inhalers can deliver more medication to the airway than medicines absorbed through the bloodstream. Some of the types of inhalers include:

  • Metered dose inhalers
  • Nebulizers
  • Dry power inhalers

Metered dose inhalers are made of a curved plastic mouthpiece and a pressurized canister that carries the medicine. Some models of metered dose inhalers include those that are breath-activated in releasing the medicine.

The spacer is the tube situated in the mouthpiece that holds the released medicine. This process gives the user more time to inhale gradually.

Because of the spacer, less medicine is lost into the air or left at the back of the throat. More medicine is able to enter the airway.

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology says that nebulizers are helpful for those who cannot use inhalers or those who have more harsh asthma that requires bigger doses of medicine.

Dry powder inhalers release medicine by breathing through a more forceful and quicker breath.

What should I know about inhalers?

The newer versions or the earth-friendly inhalers cost around $30 to $50. The older style is priced at $15 but is usually out-of-stock.

Inhalers are effective for getting symptomatic relief. They contain drugs that help stop the symptoms of asthma. This medication works by relaxing the muscles around the airway to ease breathing.

There are some types of inhalers that help avert asthma attacks, including the beta-2 agonists and corticosteroids.

What happens when an asthma attack is left untreated?

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In the absence of asthma medication and treatment, breathing becomes laborious and the wheezing becomes louder. As the lungs continue to tighten, air movement will become insufficient, thus producing a wheezing sound.

Having a “silent chest” is a dangerous sign as this may lead to inability to speak and bluish coloring may develop around the lips.

When this happens, it is an indication that less oxygen is present in the blood. Without immediate treatment in an ICU, this may lead to unconsciousness and death.

What is the importance of asthma inhalers?

They are considered a lifesaver for asthma sufferers. It provides a safety net for asthmatics whenever an attack starts. Using an asthma inhaler has been practiced for over 100 years and has improved a lot in terms of absorption and potency.

Though new versions are available now on the market, the basic principle has not changed over the years, except that it is now offered as a more earth-friendly device.

Doctors usually recommend using asthma inhalers before sleeping at night and upon waking up in the morning. These are the times when the muscles in the bronchial tubes are contracted, thus making breathing more difficult for someone with asthma.

New users of asthma inhalers may find it hard to use at first, but with continued usage, the user will be able to adapt and master the timing, which is very essential when using inhalers.

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