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

Abstract

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.

Authors

Gidwani-Marszowski R1,2,3, Owens DK4,5, Lo J6, Goldhaber-Fiebert JD5, Asch SM4,7, Barnett PG6,4,5. Appl Health Econ Health Policy. 2019 Apr 27. doi: 10.1007/s40258-019-00468-5. [Epub ahead of print]

Author Information

1.  VA Health Economics Resource Center, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, 795 Willow Rd. (152 MPD), Menlo Park, CA, 94025, USA. risha.gidwani@va.gov.

2.  VA Center for Innovation to Implementation, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Menlo Park, CA, USA. risha.gidwani@va.gov.

3.  Division of Primary Care and Population Health, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA. risha.gidwani@va.gov.

4.  VA Center for Innovation to Implementation, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Menlo Park, CA, USA.

5.  Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research/Center for Health Policy, Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.

6.  VA Health Economics Resource Center, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, 795 Willow Rd. (152 MPD), Menlo Park, CA, 94025, USA.

7.  Division of Primary Care and Population Health, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.

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