Background: Approximately 3.2-3.9 million U.S. residents are infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Total annual costs (direct and indirect) in the United States for HCV were estimated to be $5.46 billion in 1997, and direct medical costs have been predicted to increase to $10.7 billion for the 10-year period from 2010 through 2019, due in part to the increasing number of HCV patients developing advanced liver disease (AdvLD).
Objective: To quantify in a sample of commercially insured enrollees (a) total per patient per year (PPPY) all-cause costs to the payer, overall and by the stage of liver disease, for patients diagnosed with HCV; and (b) incremental all-cause costs for patients diagnosed with HCV relative to a matched non-HCV cohort.
Methods: This retrospective, matched cohort study included patients aged at least 18 years and with at least 6 months of continuous enrollment in a large managed care organization (MCO) claims database from July 1, 2001, through March 31, 2010. Patients with a diagnosis of HCV (ICD-9-CM codes 070.54, 070.70) were identified and stratified into those with and without AdvLD, defined as decompensated cirrhosis (ICD-9-CM codes 070.44, 070.71, 348.3x, 456.0, 456.1, 456.2x, 572.2, 572.3, 572.4, 782.4, 789.59); hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC, ICD-9-CM code 155); or liver transplant (ICD-9-CM codes V42.7, 50.5 or CPT codes 47135, 47136). For patients without AdvLD, the index date was the first HCV diagnosis date observed at least 6 months after the first enrollment date, and at least 6 months of continuous enrollment after the index date were required. HCV patients without AdvLD were stratified into those with and without compensated cirrhosis (ICD-9-CM codes 571.2, 571.5, 571.6). For patients with AdvLD, the index date was the date of the first AdvLD diagnosis observed at least 6 months after the first enrollment date, and at least 1 day of enrollment after the index date was required. Cases were matched in an approximate 1:10 ratio to comparison patients without an HCV diagnosis or AdvLD diagnosis who met all other inclusion criteria based on gender, age, hospital referral region state, pre-index health care costs, alcoholism, human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), and a modified Charlson Comorbidity Index. For the HCV and comparison patient cohorts, PPPY all-cause costs to the payer were calculated as total allowed charges summed across all patients divided by total patient-days of follow-up for the cohort, multiplied by 365, inflation-normalized to 2009 dollars. Because the calculation of PPPY cost generated a single value for each cohort, bootstrapping was used to generate descriptive statistics. Incremental PPPY costs for HCV patients relative to non-HCV patients were calculated as between-group differences in PPPY costs. T-tests for independent samples were used to compare costs between case and comparison cohorts.
Results: A total of 34,597 patients diagnosed with HCV, 78.0% with HCV without AdvLD, 4.4% with compensated cirrhosis, 12.3% with decompensated cirrhosis, 2.8% with HCC, and 2.6% with liver transplant, were matched to 330,435 comparison patients. Mean (SD) age of all HCV cases was 49.9 (8.5) years; 61.7% were male. Incremental mean (SD) PPPY costs in 2009 dollars for all HCV patients relative to comparison patients were $ 9,681 ($176) PPPY. Incremental PPPY costs were $5,870 ($157) and $5,330 ($491) for HCV patients without liver disease and with compensated cirrhosis, respectively. Incremental PPPY costs for patients with AdvLD were $27,845 ($ 965) for decompensated cirrhosis, $43,671 ($2,588) for HCC, and $ 93,609 ($4,482) for transplant. Incremental prescription drug costs, including the cost of antiviral drugs, were $2,739 ($37) for HCV patients overall, $2,659 ($41) for HCV without liver involvement, and $3,102 ($157) for HCV with compensated cirrhosis. These between-group differences were statistically significant at P<0.001.
Conclusions: Based on a retrospective analysis of data from a large, MCO claims database, patients diagnosed with HCV had annual all-cause medical costs that were almost twice as high as those of enrollees without a diagnosis of HCV. Health care costs increased dramatically with AdvLD. Data from this study may help MCOs project future HCV costs and facilitate planning for HCV patient management efforts.