Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection increases total healthcare costs but the effect of the severity of liver disease associated with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) on healthcare costs has not been well studied. We analyzed the demographics, healthcare utilization, and healthcare costs of CHC patients in a large U.S. private insurance database (January, 2002 to August, 2010), with at least 1 year of baseline enrollment and 30 days of continuous follow-up. Patients were stratified by liver disease severity: noncirrhotic liver disease (NCD), compensated cirrhosis (CC), and endstage liver disease (ESLD), as defined by the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9) codes. Mean all-cause and HCV-related healthcare costs per-patient-per-month (PPPM) during follow-up (mean 634 days) are reported in 2010 U.S.$ from the payer's perspective. A total of 53,796 patients with CHC were included (NCD: 41,858 [78%]; CC: 3,718 [7%]; and ESLD: 8,220 [15%]). Mean all-cause PPPM healthcare costs were 32% and 247% higher for patients with CC and ESLD compared to those with NCD ($1,870 and $4,931 versus $1,420; P <0.001) and were independent of age or comorbid conditions. Pharmacy, ambulatory, and inpatient care collectively accounted for 90% of NCD costs and 93% of CC and ESLD costs. The largest cost components were inpatient costs for those with ESLD (56%) and ambulatory costs for those with CC and NCD (37% and 36%, respectively). Overall, 56% of costs were HCV-related and this proportion increased with severity (46%, 57%, and 71% for patients with NCD, CC, and ESLD, respectively). Conclusion: The direct healthcare costs associated with CHC are high, increase in association with the progression of liver disease, and are highest in those with ESLD.
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