Low-income families with children who have food allergies pay an average of 2.5-times the amount that families with higher incomes pay. Most of those costs are in hospitalization and emergency care, a recent study found.

The study was conducted by Northwestern Medicine and noted that lower income families in general rely on emergency care more often than others due to the nature of their often spotty insurance coverages. Adding in the fact that many of these low-income families cannot always afford allergen-free foods and the lower likelihood of their having access to epinephrine auto-injectors means their children are more likely to have allergic reactions.

Data showed that lowest income families pay an average of $1,021 annually for hospitalization.

The highest income group paid only $416 per year. The cost differences do not include insurance premium costs. The study’s lead author believes that other costs not accounted for in the study, such as prescriptions and special foods, further widen that disparity.

It’s likely that outreach to lower income families has failed to help, despite programs and low-cost options being available to them. This is likely due to that outreach often focusing on specialists, who are less likely to be seen by lower income families.

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