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Food Allergy Chronicles: The Cost of Allergies Part 1

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Cost Allergies

Back in May I wrote about the EpiPen Problem 

The Cost of Allergies:

There are two ways to look at this question, the literal and the not literal. To look at it one way they will cost you freedom, relationships, confidence, trust, your want to socialize. All those things are fixable, you can get over them by learning to manage your allergies to the best of your ability. In the literal sense though allergies cost money. Lots and lots of money.

With the recent media outrage over Mylan and the cost of EpiPens the general public is getting a small sense of what those cost look like. I say small because it’s literally just a portion. Add to that cost doctor’s appointments, other medications, and the ever important food. And yes our food costs more . . . a lot more.

EpiPen prices are at an all time high of about $600 dollars for a 2 pack. Most families of small children need at minimum a pack at school and a home/for carry pack. As an adult I self carry everywhere so I only fill one 2 pack at a time. I would prefer to have a set for work and a set for home but it’s not a feasible option. Now assume you have a perfect year and you don’t have to use the medicine you won’t have to spend anymore money until the following year. (EpiPens have a yearly expiration date and need to be replaced accordingly). In my case I have not had a perfect year. I have had a remarkably not perfect year and I am on my third 2 pack. You can probably do the math on that.

On top of my auto-injector I carry Benadryl and 2 inhalers. These also cost money, not outrageous but an expense. Now if allergies are part of an autoimmune disease add in that cost. Perhaps a round of steroids for various issues. In order to keep those prescriptions current,  you have to go to the doctor. Is it a specialist? What’s your co-pay? Have you met your deductible?

Everyone has to eat. Everyone deserves to enjoy eating. Everyone should be allowed a variety every now and again. Allergy free food is expensive, like 2 or 3 times the price of a allergy full counterpart expensive. Usually for much less food as well. A loaf of bread is $2-$3…a loaf of gluten free bread $6-$8 and you get about 6 to 8 slices. Top 8 free cookies- $6 for 12, Chips Ahoy- $4 for 36. Now I understand that some people will say that we don’t need those things please remember neither do you or your children. Generally if people are looking to save money they buy store brand or generic. You know what’s in cheaper food….fillers. You know what’s in fillers…allergies. Cheap oatmeal has wheat. Cheap sauces and dressing have soy, and cheap anything is definitely produced in a facility that has some combination of allergies in it. Even Chick-Fil-A, who are getting ready to debut the first gluten free bun in a fast food restaurant, is going to charge an extra $1.50 for gluten free sandwiches.

This isn’t meant as a complaint in anyway but I think people need to realize it’s a lot bigger than just EpiPens. FARE had estimated some time ago that they thought the financial burden of allergies was about an extra $5,000 a year. Given the EpiPen cost alone it’s probably more likely close to double that or $10,000. The average American family makes about $50,000 a year, making the cost of allergies as much as 20% of their income.

Next week I’ll talk about some tips to save money . . . Stay tuned. Together if we make enough noise we can make the changes we need.

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