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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-459) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
This research was performed by Boston Health Economics, Inc. and funded by Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated.
JM, LAW, CN, and BD contributed to the concept and design of this study; CN contributed to programming; JM, LAW, CN, and BD contributed to evaluation and interpretation of results; and JM, LAW, CN, and BD contributed to manuscript preparation. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) may progress to advanced liver disease (ALD), including decompensated cirrhosis and/or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). ALD can lead to significant clinical and economic consequences, including liver transplantation. This study evaluated the health care costs associated with ALD among HCV infected patients in a Medicaid population.
Using Florida Medicaid claims data, cases were patients with at least 1 diagnosis of HCV or prescription therapy for HCV (ribavirin plus interferon, peginterferon, or interferon alfacon-1) prior to an incident ALD-related diagnosis (“index event”) between 1999 and 2007. ALD-related conditions included decompensated cirrhosis, HCC, or liver transplant. A cohort of HCV patients without ALD (comparison group subjects) were matched 1-to-1 based on age, sex, and race. Baseline and follow-up were the 12 months prior to and following index, respectively; with both periods allowing for a maximum one month gap in eligibility. For both case and comparison patient cohorts, per-patient-per-eligible month (PPPM) costs were calculated as total Medicaid paid amount for each patient over their observed number of eligible months in follow-up, divided by the patient’s total number of eligible months. A generalized linear model (GLM) was constructed controlling for age, race, Charlson score, alcoholic cirrhosis, and hepatitis B to explore all-cause PPPM costs between study groups. The final study group included 1,193 cases and matched comparison patients (mean age: 49 years; 45% female; 54% white, 23% black, 23% other).
The majority of ALD-related diagnoses were for decompensated cirrhosis (92%), followed by HCC (6%) and liver transplant (2%). Cases had greater comorbidity (mean Charlson score: 3.1 vs. 2.3, P < 0.001). All-cause inpatient use up to 1-year following incident ALD diagnosis was significantly greater among cases with ALD (74% vs. 27%, P < 0.001). In the GLM, cases had 2.39 times greater total adjusted mean all-cause PPPM costs compared to the comparison group ($4,956 vs. $1,735 respectively; P < 0.001). Among cases, mean total unadjusted ALD-related costs were $1,356 PPPM, which were largely driven by inpatient costs ($1,272).
Our results suggest that among patients diagnosed with HCV, the incremental costs of developing ALD are substantial, with inpatient stays as the main driver of these increased costs.