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The Costs of Hepatitis C by Liver Disease Stage: Estimates from the Veterans Health Administration.

Gidwani-Marszowski R, Owens DK, Lo J, Goldhaber-Fiebert JD, Asch SM, Barnett PG. The Costs of Hepatitis C by Liver Disease Stage: Estimates from the Veterans Health Administration. Applied Health Economics and Health Policy. 2019 Aug 1; 17(4):513-521.

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BACKGROUND: The release of highly effective but costly medications for the treatment of hepatitis C virus combined with a doubling in the incidence of hepatitis C virus have posed substantial financial challenges for many healthcare systems. We provide estimates of the cost of treating patients with hepatitis C virus that can inform the triage of pharmaceutical care in systems with limited healthcare resources. METHODS: We conducted an observational study using a national US cohort of 206,090 veterans with laboratory-identified hepatitis C virus followed from Fiscal Year 2010 to 2014. We estimated the cost of: non-advanced Fibrosis-4; advanced Fibrosis-4; hepatocellular carcinoma; liver transplant; and post-liver transplant. The former two stages were ascertained using laboratory result data; the latter stages were ascertained using administrative data. Costs were obtained from the Veterans Health Administration's activity-based cost accounting system and more closely represent the actual costs of providing care, an improvement on the charge data that generally characterizes the hepatitis C virus cost literature. Generalized estimating equations were used to estimate and predict costs per liver disease stage. Missing data were multiply imputed. RESULTS: Annual costs of care increased as patients progressed from non-advanced Fibrosis-4 to advanced Fibrosis-4, hepatocellular carcinoma, and liver transplant (all p? < 0.001). Post-liver transplant, costs decreased significantly (p? < 0.001). In simulations, patients were estimated to incur the following annual costs: US $17,556 for non-advanced Fibrosis-4; US $20,791 for advanced Fibrosis-4; US $46,089 for liver cancer; US $261,959 in the year of the liver transplant; and US $18,643 per year after the liver transplant. CONCLUSIONS: Cost differences of treating non-advanced and advanced Fibrosis-4 are relatively small. The greatest cost savings would be realized from avoiding progression to liver cancer and transplant.

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