A similar trend is apparent for mean hepatitis C-related health care costs. Overall, 56% of total costs were hepatitis C-related and this proportion increased with disease severity (46%, 57%, and 71% for patients without cirrhosis, compensated cirrhosis, and end-stage liver disease, respectively).
Pharmacy, ambulatory, and inpatient care accounted for 90% of costs for hepatitis C patients without cirrhosis and 93% of the costs for those with compensated cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease.
The study estimated the annual health care costs to be $24,176 for patients with chronic hepatitis C infection. When looked at by disease stage, average annual costs were estimated to be $17,277 among patients with no cirrhosis, $22,752 among patients with compensated cirrhosis, and $59,995 annually among patients with end-stage liver disease.
Dr. Gordon indicated that the primary drivers of higher health care expenses were found to be inpatient costs for patients with end-stage liver disease and pharmacy costs for patients with compensated cirrhosis.
"As we see patients with more advanced liver disease, we see significantly more costs to the system. The key, therefore, is to treat and cure the infection early to prevent the consequences of more advanced disease and the associated economic burden," says Dr. Gordon.
Current treatment for hepatitis C involves a cocktail of three drugs taken for 24-48 weeks with viral clearance "cure" rates of 65-80 percent.
Most people who are infected with hepatitis C remain without symptoms for years. The infection may lead to scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), liver cancer, the need for liver transplant, and potentially death
|Contact: Maria Seyrig|
Henry Ford Health System