Three of the largest health insurance companies in Arkansas say they are offering coverage for hepatitis C virus testing, in line with CDC’s recommendation that all Americans born between 1945-1965, or baby boomers, be screened for HCV.
“One in 30 baby boomers has been infected with hepatitis C, and most don’t know it,” said CDC spokesperson Salina A. Cranor. Arkansas Department of Health spokesperson Ed Barham said his agency will do additional research, but based on national data, “We expect that about 1 percent of Arkansans may be infected.” In 2009, state reports showed 57 deaths from the disease.
“We do cover these screening tests,” said Max Greenwood, with the Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, noting an average cost of about $30, with patients responsible for only a co-payment. United-Healthcare and QualChoice Arkansas will also cover the screenings. “The CDC’s recommendation is national, and we do not vary state by state,” said Tracy Lempner, of United-Healthcare.
Dr. Andres Duarte-Rojo, a transplant hepatologist with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said many patients are surprised to learn there are successful treatments for HCV, including two drugs that were approved just last year.
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