A new report by CDC reveals that despite effective and safe treatments for Hepatitis C being available for the past decade, their high cost and insurance restrictions have limited access, leading to many people not receiving treatment.
Accessible treatment meets barriers: About ten years ago, easy-to-take oral antivirals with few side effects capable of curing Hepatitis C in 95% of cases were introduced.
* However, these treatments are priced at $20-25,000 per course, which coupled with restrictive insurance policies has kept many diagnosed with Hepatitis C from accessing them over the past decade.
By the numbers: CDC estimates that about 2.4 million people in the U.S. are living with Hepatitis C, a liver disease caused by a blood-transmitted virus responsible for close to 15,000 deaths annually in the U.S.
* Only around 34% of people known to have Hepatitis C in the past decade have been cured or cleared of the virus.
* Over the past decade, more than half a million of those diagnosed with Hepatitis C have not accessed treatments.
Insurance roadblocks: High price of medication has led to insurers setting up “obstacles” like restrictions on medication until patients see a specialist, abstain from drug use, or reach advanced stage liver disease – steps not aligned with medical guidance.
Presidential intervention: To address low Hepatitis C treatment uptake, the Biden Administration has proposed a National Hepatitis C Elimination Program, currently being reviewed in Congress, which will use a subscription model to negotiate lump sum payments with drug manufacturers to provide Hep C drugs for free to individuals on Medicaid, uninsured individuals, those in prison, and on Native American reservations.
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