Obstacles to successful treatment of hepatitis C in uninsured patients from a minority population

Alexandra DeBose-Scarlett, Raymond Balise, Deukwoo Kwon, Susan Vadaparampil, Steven Xi Chen, Eugene R. Schiff, Gladys Patricia Ayala, Emmanuel Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment regimens (DAAs) are well tolerated, efficacious but costly. Their high cost and restricted availability, raises concerns about the outcome of treatment in uninsured patients. This study investigated sustained virologic response (SVR) outcomes in a predominately uninsured patient population and completion of four steps along the HCV treatment cascade. Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted to characterize the patient population and analyze covariates to determine association with insurance status, attainment of SVR and progression through the HCV treatment cascade. Results: Out of a total of 216 patients, 154 (71%) were uninsured. Approximately 50% of patients (109 of 216 patients) were male and 57% were Hispanic (123 of 216 patients). Sex, race, ethnicity, treatment compliance, and rates of complications were not associated with insurance status. Insured patients were older (median 60 years vs 57 years, p-value < 0.001) and had higher rates of cirrhosis: 32 out of 62 patients (52%) vs 48 out of 154 patients (31%) (p-value = 0.005). Insured patients were tested for SVR at similar rates as uninsured patients: 84% (52 of 62 patients) vs 81% (125 of 154 patients), respectively. Of those tested for SVR, the cure rate for insured patients was 98% (51 out of 52 patients) compared to 97% (121 out of 125 patients) in the uninsured. Out of those who completed treatment, 177 of 189 (94%) were tested for attainment of SVR. Compliance rates were significantly different between tested and untested patients: 88% (156 of 177 patients) vs 0% (0 of 12 patients), respectively (p-value < 0.001). However, insurance status, race ethnicity, cirrhosis, and complications were not associated with being tested for SVR. Conclusions: These results demonstrate that insured and uninsured patients with chronic HCV infection, with access to patient assistance programs, can be treated and have comparable clinical outcomes. In addition, testing for SVR remains an important obstacle in completion of the HCV treatment cascade. Nevertheless, patient assistance programs remove a significant barrier for treatment access in real-world HCV infected populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number178
JournalJournal of translational medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 28 2018


  • Direct acting antivirals
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Minority
  • Sustained virologic response
  • Uninsured

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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