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For children who have asthma, pests like cockroaches and mice can trigger allergic reactions and lead to recurring and expensive hospital visits. Could insurers save money by investing in housing-based improvements like pest management services?
There’s a connection between one’s home environment and asthma. An array of home-related factors can trigger or worsen asthma: pests such as cockroaches and mice can cause allergic reactions, and secondhand smoke, air pollution, and mold can make it worse. In New York City, children with asthma who are exposed to pests are three times more likely to be hospitalized, and they account for more than two-thirds of asthma-related rehospitalizations annually, according to the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).
The department recently launched a pilot project to zero in on pest-related pediatric asthma by delivering comprehensive pest management to patients’ homes—and tapping a group of Medicaid health insurers to fund it, even though such nonmedical interventions aren’t typically covered. If the three-year Medicaid Together Improving Asthma Program pilot succeeds in reducing repeat hospitalizations, the insurers should reap returns in the form of direct health care cost savings—but if not, a $1.2 million fund is in place to mitigate any losses.