At Risk for Hepatitis? Medicare Can Help
Did you know viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, causes more than 1 million deaths per year worldwide? That’s about the same number of deaths caused by tuberculosis and HIV combined. Fortunately, Medicare can help protect you from Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, the most common types of viral hepatitis in the United States.
Hepatitis is contagious. The Hepatitis B virus, for example, spreads through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. People can also get infected by coming in contact with a contaminated object, where the virus can live for up to 7 days.
Hepatitis B can range from being a mild illness, lasting a few weeks (acute), to a serious long-term illness (chronic) that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.
Medicare Part B covers Hepatitis B shots, which usually are given as a series of 3 shots over a 6month period. You need all 3 shots for complete protection.
Medicare covers these shots for people at medium or high risk for Hepatitis B. Risk factors include hemophilia, end-stage renal disease, diabetes, if you live with someone who has Hepatitis B, or if you’re a health care worker and have frequent contact with blood or body fluids. Check with your doctor to see if you’re at medium or high risk for Hepatitis B.
You pay nothing for Hepatitis B shots if your doctor or other qualified health care provider accepts Medicare payment.
Medicare also covers a onetime Hepatitis C screening test if your primary care doctor or practitioner orders it and you meet one of these conditions:
- You’re at high risk because you have a current or past history of illicit injection drug use;
- You had a blood transfusion before 1992;
- You were born between 1945 and 1965.
Medicare also covers yearly repeat screenings for certain people at high risk.
Medicare will only cover Hepatitis C screening tests if they’re ordered by a primary care doctor or other primary care provider. You pay nothing for the screening test if the doctor or other qualified health care provider accepts Medicare payment.