OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A recent survey by ValuePenguin found nearly half of Americans report symptoms of seasonal allergies — and many spend hundreds of dollars on relief.
ValuePenguin surveyed more than 1,200 consumers to gauge the impact of allergy season on their physical and financial health.
According to the report, 68% of Americans say they, or someone in their household, suffer from seasonal allergies — including 49% who have seasonal allergies themselves.
ValuePenguin also found that seasonal allergies cost consumers $266 a year on average, or more than $16,000 over a lifetime.
Men with seasonal allergies spend more than double on average than women during the year — $340 versus $164.
During the pandemic, 47% of those with seasonal allergies say they’ve confused their symptoms for COVID-19 symptoms.
And in 2021, more than a third of respondents — 36% — feel their allergies have been worse than normal.
Officials say the pandemic kept many people indoors and at home at the height of last year’s allergy season, perhaps allowing more allergy-sufferers to breeze through the spring with fewer or no symptoms. Now that people are spending more time outside again, their tolerance may have dropped, leading to what feels like worse allergy symptoms.
Health insurance coverage for allergy treatments can vary based on the insurance provider, the severity of the symptoms and the type of treatment, but more than a third of respondents with allergies say insurance hasn’t always covered their allergy-related expenses.
Now, there’s good news for those with a health savings account (HSA): allergy medicine is an eligible expense for HSAs.
“With the enactment of the CARES Act, OTC medications are now classified as qualified medical expenses and can be reimbursed through an HSA or flexible savings account (FSA),” ValuePenguin insurance expert Sterling Price says.
ValuePenguin recommends taking these steps to better cope with allergies, physically and financially:
- Keep it in-network. If your allergies have become so severe that you’re looking into or have been referred to a specialist, make sure the doctor’s visit is covered by your insurance provider. If you see an allergist who’s not covered by your plan, you may find yourself on the hook for the bill.
- “Choosing a plan that covers essential health benefits will better guarantee that someone will have preventative services such as allergy prescriptions covered by their health plan,” Price says.
- Take advantage of HSAs or FSAs. Whether you suffer from seasonal allergies, an HSA or FSA can help you prepare for medical-related expenses if you start feeling sick. Use the funds to restock the medicine cabinet with essentials like pain relievers and cold medicine.
- Take action. Seasonal allergy veterans know the usefulness of air purifiers, vacuums and other household appliances in combating allergens in the home. Wearing a mask outdoors can also help prevent symptoms, so even as the pandemic winds down, consider the continued use of this precaution. Finding ways to “go green” in your personal life can also help the overall fight against climate change and improve the air for everyone.