Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Hepatitis C Patients Beware

Patients without insurance who do not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare are less than half as likely as patients with private insurance to undergo treatment for hepatitis C. Patients reliant upon Medicaid or Medicare are also less likely to undergo treatment than patients with private health insurance.

Hepatitis C is caused by a virus that attacks the liver. You are at risk for Hepatitis C if any of the following situations affect you.

were notified that you received blood from a donor who later tested positive for hepatitis C.

have ever injected illegal drugs, even if you experimented a few times many years ago

received a blood transfusion or solid organ transplant before July, 1992

were a recipient of clotting factor(s) made before 1987

have ever been on long-term kidney dialysis

have evidence of liver disease (e.g., persistently abnormal ALT levels)

"Clinicians with a low hepatitis C patient load appear to be undertreating the disease," said Mary Fletcher-Louis, analyst at Decision Resources. "Clinicians who have a high hepatitis C case load (more than 50 patients per month) say they treat 52% of hepatitis C patients at the time of initial diagnosis. The corresponding estimate by clinicians with a lower case load is only 40% of patients."
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