New studies conducted by Henry Ford hospital has brought to light that the cost of treating advanced stage liver diseases is two and a half times greater than the cost of treating the same disease in the initial stage. This is the first study that has taken up the study of health care cost in comparison with the severity of the disease.
The lead author of the study, director of Hepatology at the hospital, Dr. Stuart C. Gordon said that as a patient progresses in age, the severity of disease increases. People who are old and suffer from hepatitis C have to bear a higher cost of medical treatment. They are also a bigger burden economically on the health care system. The researchers are set to present the results during the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Association for the study of Liver Diseases that is to be held in San Francisco.
According to surveys, close to four million people suffer from different stages of Hepatitis C infection in America but a large percentage of this population remains undiagnosed. Advanced stages of the disease can lead to problems such as cirrhosis which can further lead to a number of complications.
Cost considerations were studies for patients who had to get treated for hepatitis C infection. Data ranging from 2003 to 2010 were studies and results were compared. The various aspects that were taken into consideration were drug costs and other medical services such as diagnostics tests and doctor visits. Commuting to the hospital, if in an ambulance, was also considered. On the whole 53, 796 patients suffering from chronic hepatitis were studied. Among these, 78% that is 41,858 were diagnosed without cirrhosis, 7% that is 3718 were diagnosed with compensated cirrhosis, 15% that is 8220 were diagnosed with end stage liver disease. The average ages of people in each group were 49, 51 and 52 respectively.
It was found that health care costs increased by 32% when disease was in medium condition and increased to 247$ when the disease was in the end stage liver condition. A major part of the cost, about 90%, was attributed to inpatient care, pharmacy and ambulatory costs. For those who were suffering with end stage liver disease and compensated cirrhosis, these costs came up to 93%. The problem with hepatitis C is that it takes years for the virus to show up and by them severe damage can be caused. Symptoms are not very evident.