Food allergies have a huge financial impact, which should come as no surprise to families dealing with allergies. A recent study pegs the cost per child with food allergies at $4,000 per year.
Less than 20 percent of this cost is attributed to direct medical expenses related to diagnosis and treatment of allergies. Additional expenses include allergy-friendly foods and lost productivity resulting from the allergy. According to survey leader Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, of Northwestern University in Chicago, more than half of the cost is related to career sacrifices made by parents whose children have food allergies.
The survey involved 1,643 parents with children who have food allergies. Respondents estimated that having to leave or change jobs, take part-time employment, or otherwise give up income in order to care for their child’s food allergies cost them an average of nearly $2,400 each year.
National Cost of Food Allergies
Extrapolated for the entire United States, Gupta estimated the total economic burden of childhood food allergies to top $25 billion annually (or $4,184 for each child with food allergies). This included $4.3 billion in direct medical costs ($724 per child), $5.5 billion in out-of-pocket costs ($931 per child), $0.8 billion in lost work productivity ($130 per child) and $14.2 billion in foregone work opportunities ($2,399 per child).
She commented that this cost could be cut substantially by concentrated efforts to “provide safe environments for children with food allergies.” Gupta also asked parents how much they would be willing to spend to cure their child’s food allergies. Responses averaged $3,504 per year; interestingly, this number is very close to the actual yearly cost of having a food allergy.