A team from California, USA, estimated the direct and indirect costs of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the United States, in 1997.
Aggregation and analysis of national data sets was conducted. Data were collected by the National Center for Health Statistics, the Health Care Financing Administration, and other government bureaus and private firms.
To estimate costs, the researchers used the human capital method. This decomposes costs into direct categories, such as medical expenses, and indirect categories, such as lost earnings and lost home production.
HCV that resulted in chronic liver disease was considered separately from HCV that resulted in primary liver cancer.
| Cost of HCV in the US - $5.46 billion (1997).
| Archives of Internal Medicine |
The investigators estimated the cost of HCV in 1997 to be $5.46 billion.
Costs were split as follows: 33% for direct and 67% for indirect costs.
HCV that resulted in chronic liver disease was found to contribute roughly 92% of the costs. HCV that resulted in primary liver cancer contributed the remaining 8%.
The authors, led by Dr J. Paul Leigh, of the University of California at Davis Medical Center, commented that the total estimate of $5.46 billion is conservative, because costs associated with pain and suffering, and the value of care rendered by family members was ignored.
Dr Leigh said on behalf of the group, "To our knowledge, only one estimate of the annual costs of HCV in the 1990s has appeared in the literature, at $0.6 billion. However, that estimate was not supported by an explanation of the methods."
"Our estimate, which relies on detailed methods, is nearly 10 times the original estimate, and is on a par with the cost of asthma ($5.8 billion in 1994)," he concluded.