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The objective of this study was to estimate annual healthcare and workloss costs of patients with persistent asthma by severity.A persistent asthma patient sample (<65 years) was selected from an employer claims database. Asthma persistence and severity were determined by a novel algorithm based on Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set criteria, Leidy’s Reliever and Oral Steroid Method, and Global Initiative for Asthma guidelines. Healthcare costs were compared between asthma patients and demographically matched controls and by asthma severity.Average annual excess costs for persistent patients were $4412 for health care and $924 for workloss (P < 0.01). Although costs for severe patients were higher than moderate patients (P < 0.05), moderate patients’ costs were similar to that for mild patients. Persistent use of inhaled corticosteroids was lower in mild (9.0%) relative to moderate (78.1%) and severe (86.4%) patients.Persistent asthma is expensive. Underutilization of inhaled corticosteroids is higher in patients with mild persistent asthma.