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How sick must hepatitis C patients be to get help?

Some hepatitis C patients are denied treatment by their insurance companies and told to wait until they are sicker to access treatment.

Two years ago, James Luongo was thrilled to hear about the first new drugs that could rid his body of hepatitis C. The virus had been silently circulating in his blood for years and would likely cause liver disease, perhaps cancer. But he still felt fine.

The drugs seemed like a good thing until his Medicaid insurer denied coverage of the treatment. Twice.

“They said, ‘You’re not sick enough,’ ” said Luongo, who is staying with his ailing mother in Northeast Philadelphia. “How do they tell somebody you’ve got a disease that’s deadly, that’s going to kill you, but you’re not sick enough for the cure?”

The answer, most everyone agrees, is that the drugs are so expensive that states and their Medicaid contractors have felt forced to gamble. They bet that patients’ disease will progress slowly. They wager that pharmaceutical companies will gradually lower prices in the face of more competition. They take a chance that people with hepatitis C will not infect others.

Read Full Article: How sick must hepatitis C patients be to get help?

Read Full Article: How sick must hepatitis C patients be to get help?

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