The True Cost of Hepatitis C

"Is the real cost of care only measured in dollars and cents, or is it defined best in other terms?" A rhetorical question by some measures, but it can be quantified in dollars, as we know, and we can’t ignore that fact. Whether you have universal single payer care, no insurance, private insurance, or are part of any type of plan, there are costs for our care.

Affording hep C treatment and care

In my view, cost should never be our primary concern when we seek medical care, but unfortunately, it can create a giant barrier to access. If we are dealing with hep C or any other condition that requires a medical response, we should all have access to appropriate care, regardless of our ability to pay for it. The true cost should be measured in terms of how our health outcomes are affected, not money. This does not mean that we can, as a society, ignore that there are financial costs that should be borne by us all, based on our collective benefit accrued by a healthier society with freedom from disease being paramount as a measure of our success.

Some places will scoff at the idea that we should all have equal access. Many of us have experienced the inequities that exist, that can manifest in very real and dangerous ways in respect to our own health and of those we care about. If you have had an experience where your access to even basic care has been a struggle, you know what I am talking about. You may have had to rely on charity or other forms of care that are meant to fill the gap.

Hep C worldwide

What is the human cost of a system that makes it hard for so many people to access care in a respectful and appropriate way? When we look at the history of hep C and the reluctance by agencies that are tasked with addressing pandemics like hep C (and yes, it was termed a pandemic years ago by the World Health Organization, with tens of millions affected in almost every country in our world1), the efforts to eliminate viral hepatitis are underway in various countries, with some being far behind others. This new pandemic will potentially effect our efforts to reach 2030 elimination targets.

If the effect of COVID-19 on our global economies going to make a dent in available funds to address the viral hepatitis pandemic is still up for debate, as we are still in the midst of a more urgent pandemic. There is no doubt that if we are forced through financial considerations to redirect resources away from our efforts towards eliminating hep C there will be an impact, but how much? There is no doubt, in my view, that we have some real challenges ahead, and in real terms of hep C health outcomes, we will once again be second or third or 10th in importance. Some countries will do better than others, and I hope that we can all do better, going forward.

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