Allergies are one of the leading causes of chronic illness in the U.S., affecting as many as 60 million people each year. Sandi Kiehl is one of them.
“Especially in the fall, with all the dead leaves and everything, I would be wheezing and have shortness of breath and watery eyes,” Kiehl said.
Every evening after dinner, Kiehl heads to her refrigerator and takes out a vial of drops. The drops are a form of immunotherapy that helps her tolerate environmental allergens, such as mold and pollen.
For Kiehl, a few drops under the tongue are far easier than the alternative treatment option — weekly shots at the doctor’s office.
“The drops have been really effective,” Kiehl said. “I love that I can just do it here at home. The cost is very reasonable for me, and yeah, I'm just thrilled.”
New research from the University of Missouri School of Medicine and MU Health Care shows drop therapy may be more cost-effective for the U.S. health care system, too.
A team of researchers looked at both drop and shot therapy, comparing how well patients stuck with the treatments, the success rate and the cost to health insurance providers. In the majority of cases, the researchers found drops to be more cost-effective.
“This compares these therapies, which are very close in their efficacy, and says, ‘All right. They both work pretty well, and both of them have Grade A evidence, and one is cheaper than the other,’” said Christine Franzese, MD, an ear, nose and throat doctor at MU Health Care who specializes in allergy and sinus diseases. “One of the reasons we did this study was to try and show that there are a lot of conditions where you can do the drops, and they help a lot of people, and they can save our system, potentially, a lot of money.”
Insurance companies do not always cover allergy drops, but Franzese hopes research like this will encourage more of them to do so.
To determine which option is most cost-effective for you, talk to your doctor and insurance provider.