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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What's a Certified Asthma Educator (AE-C)?


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In every profession, you have titles, licenses and certifications. In the world of asthma, the goal is to be a Certified Asthma Educator (AE-C). 

If you want to learn more about asthma, you want to learn from the best, right?!
That's where an AE-C comes in. An AE-C is a voluntary certification in the U.S., so, those of us that have studied for and passed the exam do it because we want to be known as an expert in the field. (I didn't even get a raise after passing the exam and getting my certification!)

It's not a easy exam (only 65% of people who take the exam actually pass it), and it's not cheap (I paid $350 to take the exam) and it takes about 3 hours. Did I mention that it's not an easy test? There are only about 3,500 AE-C's in the US that have passed the exam (that's not many considering there are over 25 million people here that have asthma! )

 How do you qualify to take the exam? NAECB (The National Asthma Educator Certification Board) says you are eligible IF:



1. You are a licensed or credentialed health care professionals OR

2. You provide professional direct patient asthma education and counseling with a minimum of 1,000 hours experience in these activities. 


NAECB lists the following currently licensed or credentialed health care professionals that qualify for the exam under #1.
Physicians (MD, DO)
Physician Assistants (PA-C)
Nurse Practitioners (NP)
Nurses (RN, LPN)
Respiratory Therapists (RRT, CRT)
Pulmonary Function Technologists (CPFT, RPFT)
Pharmacists (RPh)
Social Workers (CSW)
Health Educators (CHES)
Physical Therapists (PT)
Occupational Therapists (OT)
I fit under category #1, and was able to take (and pass!) the AE-C exam because I am a Health Educator and had a rigorous course study for my 4 year Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree. My classes included: first aid, anatomy and physiology, biology, physical science, behavioral science, epidemiology, human diseases, medical terminology, ethics, health and diversity, environmental health, modifying health behavior, research methods, bio- statistics, etc.

Once I made it through all those classes and graduated in Public Health, I could sit for the CHES exam through NCHEC. (This is also a $300 exam that takes 3 hour and also has a low pass rate.) It also means you are top in the field of Public Health. To maintain my CHES, I must re-certify with 75 continuing education (CE) credit hours over a 5 year period. I have to keep my CHES credential current to keep my AE-C current. With the AE-C credential, you need 35 hours of CE credits over 5 years. So that's 110 hours of CE credits.....every 5 years.

What does all this mean?

It means that anyone who takes the test must have at least a bachelors degree and some pretty intense classes in hard science, health, and medical field. 

AND once you pass it, you must continue to learn more by attending webinars from Allergy & Asthma Network , the EPA, state health department asthma programs, etc. This helps us learn more about the latest research, medications, changes to the guidelines, and much more.

I also attend the National Association of Asthma Educators conference.

It means learning, and then learning some more.

And I'm suddenly feeling tired that I have done so much!

So, if you are lucky enough to work with a Certified Asthma Educator, know that they are highly educated and trained, and must continue to learn more and stay updated so they can share that information with their clients.

And with that, I am going to take a nap.  I am tired.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Tell you doctor if you hate your medicine!


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My friend was telling me that she just had to use her Albuterol inhaler, and now her hands are shaking. She said that she probably had to use her Albuterol inhaler because she stopped using her controller inhaler. When looked at her surprised, she said she stopped using her controller inhaler because she didn't like the way it made her feel.  

I wanted to give her one of those, "You know better than that!" lectures. Instead, I gently reminded her that her controller inhaler does just that - controls the swelling in her lungs. It's a preventative medicine (just like people who take medicine for high blood pressure or high cholesterol.) You have to take your preventative medicine every day, knowing that it works. 

I grabbed my asthma medication poster from Allergy & Asthma Network and showed her the rainbow of inhalers that are available. 

I told her that if she doesn't like her medicine, let her doctor know! The doctor is going to send a prescription to the pharmacy, and if they don't hear back from you, they are going to assume that you are taking it. 

I showed her the green stripe on the poster, which shows all of the combination inhalers. That's the row that she's on now. I showed her where her inhaler was on the row and showed her all of the other inhalers that she could take. A lot of that depends on her insurance and which medicines her insurance company decides it wants to pay for. 

It's helpful if she works with her doctor and pharmacy to see if she can switch her inhaler. I mean, what's the point of paying for an inhaler (we all know they aren't cheap.....) if she's not going to use it?  

If you get a new inhaler, and don't like it. Don't stop taking it! Call your doc and let him know you don't like it. They can change your prescription to one you will use. 

We all want good, healthy lungs. And part of keeping your lungs healthy is taking care of them. Which means staying on your controller inhaler if the doctor has prescribed one for you.

So, keep that conversation going with your doc! 


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Coupons for prescriptions



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I popped into the pharmacy yesterday to pick our daily controller inhalers for my daughter and I, and had quite the shock at the register. They range up at $155.

It's a new pharmacy tech, so I said "Wait a minute. What was so expensive?" He said my daughter's controller inhaler was $80, and mine was $75.

I know that my pharmacy will find a manufacturer's coupon and apply that to our co-pay, so instead of paying a $80 copay for my daughter's inhaler, it will be $30. My co-pay for my inhaler is usually $75 but with a coupon, I can get it for $25.

Some of you may be thinking, "I pay WAY more than that each month for my inhaler!" I get it. My work has a $6,000 deductible for our insurance, which is a complete joke. My coworkers have to pay $250 EVERY month for their inhaler. They also have to pay full price for every doctor visit and emergency room visit.

So, I use my husband's insurance instead. It has a lower deductible and covers medications and doctor's visits once we meet our deductible. 
I know I shouldn't complain about paying $80 and $75 for an inhaler. But that's not all we get at the pharmacy. There are 5 people in my family with allergies, and 4 have asthma. So, we end up buying LOTS of controller inhalers, rescue inhalers, Albuterol vials for the nebulizer, and allergy medicine.  Plus medicine for other chronic conditions. So we use the manufacturer's coupons anytime we can!

When my son was younger, he was on a biologic (injections) for asthma. His little vial of Xolair was $1,000 every month (he was on the injections for 7 years). Our insurance covered most of it, but we still had a $150 co-pay. And that's on top of all the other inhalers, allergy medicine, and allergy shots. So, we found co-pay help on Needymeds. If you are on Xolair, you can get financial help here. 
Needymeds is a clearinghouse for co-pay assistance. Based on how much you make, you can find help for all/part of your medicine. Any medicine, not just asthma medicine. 

Here is the link to the brand name medications. Just click on the alphabet letter for your medicine. Each medicine will have co-pay help, coupons or both!

I don't use coupons at the grocery store, but I do at the pharmacy! I can save $50 each time I get an inhaler by using a coupon. Sign me up!
I will list some websites below for coupons. Your savings will depend on your insurance. 
Check here  for Dulera and Asmanex (this is good for 12 inhalers.)
If you use Symbicort, check here.
For Advair, check here. 
Check here for QVAR.
There are many more medicines and websites, but I can't list them all. Just type in the name of the medicine and "coupon" in my search bar. See what you can find!  (Or check on the Needymeds website for coupons.)
Another option is to use the website GoodRx. You can type in the name of your medicine and your zip code, and it will tell you how much your medicine costs at each pharmacy near you. Sometimes you can find your medicine for less at another pharmacy.
Good luck!