Wow. A study finds that only 54% of patients experiencing an anaphylactic episode requiring an ER visit or hospitalization get an epinephrine prescription within a year, and only 22% visit an allergist or immunologist in that time. (via this week’s FARE newsletter)

The article treats this as an education/compliance issue, but I have two big questions:

  1. How many of these patients discussed the incident with their regular doctor? It’s possible that more than 22% followed up with a doctor, just not with a specialist.
  2. How does insurance coverage correlate? If you don’t have insurance, it’s expensive to see a specialist, and expensive to get an Epi-pen (though there are generics now that are a bit cheaper)…especially after you’ve just received a bill for thousands of dollars for the emergency room.

Regarding #2, the study looked at “healthcare claims,” so if I’m reading that correctly, they may have only looked at people who do have insurance. If that’s the case, I wonder if it would be possible to break it down by type of insurance: HMO vs. PPO, do they charge a higher co-pay for specialists, etc. Our current system could do a lot more to encourage preventative care.

For the record: The first thing I did when I got home from that San Diego trip was to order a replacement Epi-Pen, and Monday morning, I called up my allergist to schedule an appointment. But then, I already had an allergist, a prescription, and insurance.

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