Allergies can be a burden, preventing you from enjoying various places and experiences. Whether you have a pet dander allergy that prevents you from spending time with your furry friend or a pollen allergy that traps you inside during spring, weathering allergy symptoms is no fun.
While traditional allergy treatments, including decongestants, antihistamines, and corticosteroids, may help you find relief from the symptoms, they don’t address the problem. But allergy immunotherapy does. Instead of focusing on the symptoms, it hones in on the problem: the allergy. Over time, it can help you find relief from those pesky symptoms.
But how much does it cost? Most people pay between $1,000 and $4,000 per person per year, but costs can vary based on factors specific to you. In this article, we’ll explore allergy immunotherapy and average costs to help you decide if it’s a good fit for your needs.
What Are Allergy Shots?
Allergy shots are a type of allergy immunotherapy (AIT) called subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT). This type of immunotherapy refers to the administration of an allergen under the skin via injection. SCIT can be a game-changer for people suffering from allergies, helping them find relief by reducing their bodies’ sensitivity to the allergen.
To understand how these shots work, we need to take a quick detour to allergies and what they are. Simply put, an allergy is a reaction in the body to a foreign substance. These substances, called allergens, include various substances, from pet dander and bee venom to pollen and pasture grasses.
Suppose you’re allergic to bee venom. When you’re stung by a bee, your body identifies the venom as harmful, triggering an immune response called an allergic reaction. This reaction takes place when the antibodies, blood proteins that counteract a specific antigen communicate with cells that release specific chemicals.
The symptoms in the resulting reaction can range from mild, such as a runny nose or red and itchy eyes, to severe, such as difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis.
How Allergy Shots Work
The allergy shot is designed to help reduce this reaction, alleviating the symptoms that arise upon exposure to the allergen. It does so by administering a small, incrementally increasing dose of the allergen in the form of an injection. The exposure to the allergen essentially “trains” your body to become less reactive by reducing the production of “blocking” antibodies that trigger the reaction.
As your treatment progresses and the dose increases, your body becomes less and less reactive to the allergen. Eventually, you may be able to interact with or be exposed to the allergen without a reaction. Of course, everyone handles the treatment differently, and allergy severity varies, so the results can look different for everyone.
To achieve some degree of tolerance through allergy shots, you’ll need to be on board with the long-term commitment required. Most people begin to notice some results within the first year, but it usually takes two to three years for the full scope of the allergen-specific tolerance to appear.
How Much Do Allergy Shots Cost?
Allergy shot costs can vary based on your treatment plan, medical provider or allergist, medical facility, and insurance policy. However, most people pay between $1,000 and $4,000 per person per year. The steep cost creates a barrier to entry, preventing low-income households from pursuing allergy relief through this avenue.
However, there are a few ways to make the cost more feasible. For one, there are companies that offer more affordable pricing plans or tiered pricing to accommodate a wider range of budgets. These companies often offer sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) options, including allergy drops and tablets, as they can be administered at home without medical supervision.
If you prefer to stick with allergy shots, we recommend talking to your healthcare provider. Since costs can vary based on factors specific to you, getting more information from your primary care physician or allergist can help you better understand the costs associated with your treatment plan.
Health Insurance Coverage
Health insurance can be a pivotal difference that closes the gap for people on tighter budgets. Since many health insurance providers cover the cost of allergy shots, enlisting the help of a health insurance policy can be a valuable tool for those pursuing allergy relief through immunotherapy.
Of course, coverage can vary from one plan and provider to the next, so it’s important to check with your health insurance provider. Additionally, it’s important to note any deductibles or copays you’ll need to pay for. While these costs are often significantly lower than the out-of-pocket costs associated with allergy immunotherapy, it’s essential to factor them in.
Allergy shots can be a life-changing treatment for those suffering from allergies, but the cost can create a significant barrier for many. After all, paying up to $4,000 per year per person in out-of-pocket costs can be unfeasible for many families.
However, there are ways to make the cost more feasible, from exploring more affordable pricing plans to enlisting the help of health insurance. It’s important to understand the costs associated with your treatment plan before you select a good fit and talk to your healthcare provider for help deciding if AIT is right for your needs.
Bob Duncan is the lead writer and partner on ConversationsWithBianca.com. A passionate parent, he’s always excited to dive into the conversation about anything from parenting, food & drink, travel, to gifts & more!