Allergy: MCOs' most-treated condition

Pharmaceutical Representative

According to the results of Atlanta-based Caredata.com's Consumer Research Group's annual nationwide health plan member survey, allergy continues to be the most widely treated chronic condition, with 18% of commercial health plan members treated in the past year. However, patients' perception of their care remains low, with fewer than four in 10 patients rating their care as "excellent." Lack of access to specialists and desired medications were the most frequently given reasons for patients' belief that they were not receiving the best treatment.

According to the results of Atlanta-based Caredata.com's Consumer Research Group's annual nationwide health plan member survey, allergy continues to be the most widely treated chronic condition, with 18% of commercial health plan members treated in the past year. However, patients' perception of their care remains low, with fewer than four in 10 patients rating their care as "excellent." Lack of access to specialists and desired medications were the most frequently given reasons for patients' belief that they were not receiving the best treatment.

The 1999 Caredata.com Commercial Health Plan Survey, which polled nearly 25,000 health plan members, also showed that allergy patients' satisfaction with their health plans had declined in recent years in two key areas: administration/service and the pharmacy benefit. According to the survey, this decline is noteworthy because allergy patients tend to select their plan more on the basis of the pharmacy benefit than do other health plan members, and satisfaction with medication is the number one predictor of patients' perceived adequacy for allergy care.

In addition, survey findings showed:


•Â 80% of allergy patients were taking medication, whether prescription, OTC or both.


•Â Patients taking nonsedating antihistamine prescription medications were more highly satisfied with their medication than those taking sedating antihistamine either alone or in combination.


•Â Claritin® was the most often taken nonsedating antihistamine, and patients taking it were significantly more likely to believe that "their plan offered the best allergy treatment" than were allergy patients taking other types of medication.


•Â One quarter of allergy patients also reported being treated for asthma. Conversely, more than 60% of asthma patients were treated for allergies.


•Â Four out of 10 allergy patients indicated that their condition had "interfered with their ability to work or study," and this number increased among those reporting "serious" allergy conditions.

Tony Morgan, vice president of research for Caredata.com's Consumer Research Group, said: "Allergies may be viewed by some as a minor discomfort, but the relationship of this condition to asthma and the fact that it can seriously affect the sufferers' quality of life indicate otherwise." PR