New AfPA Video Considers Access Barriers to Hepatitis C Cures

by Amanda Conschafter, blog editor

Since 2013 a new series of medications has offered patients with hepatitis C something radical – a 90 to 99 percent cure rate. But, as a new video from the Alliance for Patient Access explains, high costs for these breakthrough medications have led government and private insurers to institute cost-savings measures that can impede access for patients.

Upfront Costs and Long-term Value

Hosted by AfPA Chairman David Charles, MD, “Improving Patient Access to Hepatitis C Cures” considers both the value and the cost of curative treatments for hepatitis C.

As the video notes, new hepatitis C cures are costly—but they can lower long-term expenses by reducing the need for late-state disease treatments such as liver transplants, which can cost more than $500,000. To control short-term costs, however, state Medicaid systems and some insurers have developed coverage rules that complicate patients’ access to hepatitis C cures.

Patient Access Challenges

  • Extensive prior authorizations. Some patients must qualify through an extensive prior authorization process to get the hepatitis C cure they need. Such processes can include over a dozen individual requirements.
  • Care rationing. Some coverage systems limit curative hepatitis C treatments to only the sickest patients, those who demonstrate stage 3 or 4 liver fibrosis.
  • High co-pays. Patients may be asked to pay out of pocket for as much as 25 percent of the medications’ cost, which can run $84,000 or more.

Working Toward a Solution

Society would benefit from as many patients with hepatitis C as possible having access to curative treatments. But states, insurances companies, and employers simply cannot afford to treat everyone. Thus, the video explains, policymakers should consider several key factors:

  • Mechanisms to drive down the cost of hepatitis C medications
  • Co-pays that don’t impede access for patients who need hepatitis C treatment
  • The need for patients to take their medications as prescribed.

To learn more, watch “Improving Patient Access to Hepatitis C Cures.”


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