In France, the total cost of pollution to health is estimated at between €1 billion and approximately €2 billion/year, according to a study conducted by Isabella Annesi Maesano, a research director at Inserm, and her colleagues (Inserm Unit 1136, Epidemiology of Allergic and Respiratory Diseases). In other words, 15-31% of the 2012 deficit (€5.5 billion) for the health insurance branch of France’s general social security scheme.
The object of this study was to approximate as closely as possible the share of the costs attributable to air pollution of the total paid by the health system for the five most common respiratory disorders (COPD, chronic and acute bronchitis, asthma and respiratory tract cancer), hospitalisation for these pathologies, and hospitalisation associated with cardiovascular disease. These costs are generated when the patient is receiving care under the healthcare system (cost of consultations, treatments, tests or hospitalisation). The study also attempted to estimate the costs of social benefits paid to patients, and those associated with sick leave related to these diseases.
For the authors of this study, in a context of responding to a major public health impact (low individual risk, but affecting the entire population), and regulatory requirements for air quality (European directives transposed into French law), a better knowledge of the costs generated by air pollution for the French healthcare system may represent an important consideration when formulating public health policy.
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