Food allergy is a growing national health problem, affecting both children and adults. It is increasing in prevalence and its most dangerous consequence--the severe, potentially fatal reaction called anaphylaxis--is becoming more common. This analysis reports trends and patterns related to the extent and impact of food allergy and anaphylactic food reaction using data from FAIR Health, a national, independent, nonprofit organization that emphasizes transparency in healthcare costs and health insurance information. Among the findings from FAIR Health's analysis of its database of billions of privately billed healthcare claims: (1) From 2009 to 2016, the percent of claim lines with food allergy diagnoses compared to all of a state's medical claim lines grew in many states. For example, in 2016, the state with the highest percent was North Carolina, which had a relatively low percent in 2009. (2) From 2007 to 2016, the increase in claim lines with food allergy diagnoses was greater in rural (110 percent) than urban (70 percent) areas--despite past evidence that food allergy is more common in urban areas. (3) From 2007 to 2016, claim lines with diagnoses of anaphylactic food reactions rose 377 percent. (4) Although food allergy is commonly thought of as a childhood condition, about a third (34 percent) of claim lines with diagnoses of food allergy from 2007 to 2016 were attributable to patients over 18 years old. (5) In the period 2007-2016, claim lines with food allergy diagnoses were associated with boys more than girls during childhood (ages 0 to 18 years), but in adults the reverse was true: Food allergy claim lines were associated with women more than men. (6) Anaphylaxis is typically regarded as a medical emergency, but in the period 2007-2016, most services (70 percent) provided to patients diagnosed with anaphylactic food reaction were rendered in an office setting, with only 2 percent specifically designated as occurring in an emergency room. (7) Although laboratory services associated with diagnoses of anaphylactic food reaction increased 871 percent in utilization from 2007 to 2016, charges for those services increased 5,390 percent in the same period. (8) The food allergy with the highest average costs and services per patient in 2016 was milk product allergy, which generally tends to be associated with the youngest patients (infants and toddlers) and with prescription formulas.
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