APNewsBreak: Medicare spending $9B on hepatitis C drugs

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — New government figures show Medicare spending on breakthrough medications for hepatitis C will nearly double this year, passing $9 billion.

That's going to raise insurance costs for all beneficiaries, whether or not they have the liver-wasting disease.

Cost estimates show that Medicare's popular prescription drug program will spend more than $9 billion on hepatitis C drugs this year, a 96 percent increase from $4.7 billion in 2014.

"Hep C" is a viral illness affecting some 3 million people in the U.S. and claims more lives here than AIDS. More than 3 in 4 adults currently infected are baby boomers, the age group now entering Medicare.

New drugs cure the disease, but treatment costs from $80,000 to $100,000. Drug prices are the public's top health care concern in opinion polls.