Cost of Illness of Chronic Hepatitis B Infection in Vietnam

Value Health Reg Issues. 2012 May;1(1):23-28. doi: 10.1016/j.vhri.2012.03.008. Epub 2012 May 25.


Objectives: To estimate the total financial burden of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection for Vietnam by quantifying the direct medical, the direct nonmedical, and indirect costs among patients with various stages of chronic HBV infection.

Methods: Direct medical cost data were retrieved retrospectively from medical histories of inpatients and outpatients in 2008 from a large referral hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam. Direct nonmedical and indirect costs data were obtained from face-to-face interviews of outpatients from the same hospital. The treatment cost per patient per chronic HBV infection stage was multiplied by the total estimated patients in Vietnam to get the total cost of illness for the nation.

Results: Nationally, the total cost attributable to chronic HBV infection and its complications in 2008 was estimated to be approximately US $4.4 billion, with the direct medical cost accounting for about 70% of that estimate. The cost of antivirals was the major cost driver in treating chronic HBV infection. The per-patient total annual direct medical cost increased with the severity of the disease, with the estimated costs for chronic HBV infection and hepatocellular carcinoma as US $450.35 and US $1883.05, respectively. When compared with the 2008 per-capita gross domestic product of ∼US $1024, the financial burden of treating chronic HBV infection is very high in Vietnam.

Conclusions: This study confirmed that chronic HBV infection poses a significant financial burden for the average patient and that lacking treatment would become a social issue in Vietnam. Although HBV vaccination has been universally implemented, more health care investment and the greater availability of affordable medications are still needed to attain equity in proper treatment for patients with HBV infection.

Keywords: chronic hepatitis B; cost of illness; direct medical cost; indirect cost.