Spotlight Series on Hepatitis C


Medicare Will Pay for Hep C Screenings for Baby Boomers

June 4, 2014

This article was reported by Crain's Chicago Business.

Crain's Chicago Business reported that the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will pay for hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing for high-risk populations and baby boomers. More than two-thirds of American HCV cases are estimated to be among the latter group. High-risk individuals are persons who have a history of injection drug use and persons who received a blood transfusion before 1992. Private insurers have been paying for HCV screening for these groups for some time.

Controversy surrounding HCV treatment may intensify if screening identifies people with the deadly virus who are asymptomatic and do not need treatment. The newest treatment, while touting a high cure rate in as little as 12 weeks, comes with an $84,000 price tag. Medicare estimates that 300,000 people will be diagnosed with HCV by 2015, which would cost more than $25 billion if they all were treated.

HCV attacks the liver and can lead to cancer, cirrhosis, and death. CDC estimates that between 2.7 and 3.9 million Americans have hepatitis C.

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