With proper treatment, most people can be cured of hepatitis C. But antiviral treatment can be expensive, especially if you have little to no health insurance coverage.
Here are some strategies you can use to help manage the costs of hepatitis C.
Check if you’re eligible for medical benefits
It’s easier to manage the costs of treatment if you have health insurance. If you don’t have health insurance and you’re worried that you can’t afford it, you can check to see if you might qualify for help to get insured.
Depending on your health status, household composition, employment history, and income, you might be eligible for government-sponsored medical benefits. For example:
If you have a disability or you’re over the age of 65, you might qualify for Medicare. To learn if you’re eligible for this federal benefits program, use the eligibility and premium calculator at Medicare.gov.
Medicaid and subsidized insurance plans
If your income is low, you might qualify for your state’s Medicaid program. To learn about the eligibility criteria, visit your state’s Medicaid website. You can also find out more at Medicaid.gov.
If your income is too high to qualify for Medicaid, but low enough that paying the full cost of insurance premiums is difficult, you may qualify for a subsidy. You can get more information at Healthcare.gov.
Health benefits for veterans
If you’re a veteran, you might be eligible for comprehensive medical benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). For more information, visit the Health Care section of the VA website.
If you’re a spouse, dependant, or family caregiver of a veteran, you might also be able to receive medical benefits through the VA. To learn more, visit the Family and Caregiver Benefits section of the VA website.
Some states might have additional programs available to help people manage the costs of treating hepatitis C. Visit your state government’s website to learn about potential programs.
Consider applying for disability benefits
If complications of liver disease have made it hard for you to meet your responsibilities at work, you might qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration. If you receive Social Security disability benefits for two years, you will also be enrolled in Medicare.
It can be challenging to navigate the disability benefits application process. Consider visiting a community legal services center in your area to learn if there are disability rights advocates or other professionals who can guide you through the process.
Look into assistance programs from drug manufacturers
Many drug manufacturers operate patient assistance programs to help uninsured and underinsured patients afford the costs of medication. Consider contacting the manufacturer of your prescribed medication to learn if you qualify for financial assistance.
You can also use the Partnership for Prescription Assistance or RxAssist database to learn more about these programs. The American Liver Foundation also maintains a helpful list of pharmaceutical patient assistance programs specifically for hepatitis C.
Connect with a nonprofit that offers support
Some nonprofit organizations and charitable foundations offer financial support to help people cope with the costs of hepatitis C. For example, you might qualify for one or more of the following:
- copay, coinsurance, premium, or deductible assistance, if you have insurance
- discounts on medication, with or without insurance coverage
- travel support, to help cover the costs of traveling for treatment
- other types of financial support
To learn about some of the organizations that offer support to people with liver disease or hepatitis C, download a copy of the American Liver Foundation’s Financial Assistance Resources.
Before you receive treatment, ask your healthcare provider how much it will cost. If they don’t know, discuss how you can find out and which pharmacies may offer lower price options.
If you’re not happy with the price of a prescribed medication, let your doctor or pharmacist know. They might be willing to negotiate a lower price. They might also recommend another treatment plan that’s less expensive. Or they may have discount coupons or codes to use to reduce the price.
You can also contact other healthcare providers and pharmacies to learn if they offer the same treatment for less money. If you have health insurance, contact your insurance provider to learn which doctors are within your network of coverage. In-network treatment typically costs less than out-of-network services.
If you receive a bill that’s higher than you expected, contact your health insurance provider or your healthcare provider’s billing department. You might be able to negotiate to a reduced price. You might also be able to set up a payment plan that allows you to pay your bill in installments.
To learn more about the cost of services in your area, consider visiting Healthcare Bluebook, which aims to provide transparent price comparisons.
Visit a free or low-cost clinic for care
Some clinics offer free or low-cost care to people. Sometimes you may need to qualify for free or low-cost services based on your income and other factors.
To find a free or low-cost clinic in your area, consider using one of these resources:
- Health Resources and Services Administration’s Find a Health Center
- National Association of Free and Charitable Clinic’s Find a Clinic
- NeedyMed’s Free/Low-Cost/Sliding Scale Clinics
- Partnership for Prescription Assistance’s Free Clinic Finder
Individual clinics can tell you about how to qualify, what services they offer, and any costs involved. For more information, contact a clinic directly.
Enroll in a clinical trial
If you’re willing to try an experimental treatment, you might be a good candidate for a clinical trial. By participating in a trial, you can receive experimental treatment for free. You might even receive a small payment for your participation.
To learn about the potential benefits and risks of participating in a trial, talk to your doctor. To look for clinical trials in your area, visit ClinicalTrials.gov.
The financial costs of treating hepatitis C can be high. But there are many strategies and resources that you can use to manage the costs of care. Take some time to learn about the resources that are available to you.