But, he adds, that doesn't escape the ugly truth, which is that "the current financing system for healthcare in this country doesn't support these kinds of programs," even though they have lifetime benefits for the children, their families, for the healthcare system and for society at large.
"Everyone worries about their member-per-month costs, but not the long-term health impact from providing healthcare programs (like this one) for kids, and that's a real problem," Greenberg says.
Woods says the cost of these remedies may seem like a lot, but in context, it really isn't. For example, a $150 HEPA vacuum cleaner costs less than a month's supply of inhaled corticosteroid medication, the need for which may be reduced by regular carpet cleaning to prevent airborne allergen exposures, and is certainly less costly than hospitalization. The hospital pays, but Medicaid and private insurers get the savings from the avoided need for expensive healthcare services.
The hospital also spends its own money – including revenue from grants and philanthropy – to keep the program staffed with a director, clinical director, clinical nurse, community outreach worker, community nurse educator, an evaluator and a program coordinator.
The idea that an industry might undertake expensive projects to avoid selling its products is not new, although in some cases companies have been forced to do so. Utility companies now pay for home insulation and special meters that detect overuse. Some of these efforts are now "rate-based" which means that these expenses can receive a rate of return, encouraging utilities to do more of the right thing. One hopes the automobile industry is building its cars more safely and in ways they last longer.