Gut Liver.  2017 Nov;11(6):835-842. 10.5009/gnl17034.

Healthcare Costs for Chronic Hepatitis C in South Korea from 2009 to 2013: An Analysis of the National Health Insurance Claims' Data

  • 1Department of Cancer Control and Policy, Graduate School of Cancer Science and Policy, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Korea.
  • 2Department of Internal Medicine, Inje University Ilsan Paik Hospital, Goyang, Korea.
  • 3Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seongnam, Korea.


The introduction of direct-acting antivirals (DAA) in 2013 revolutionized hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment, offering a cure rate >90%. However, this therapy is expensive, and estimations of the number of chronic HCV-infected (CHC) patients and their treatment costs pre-2013 are therefore essential for creating policies and expanding drug access. Herein, we aimed to investigate the number of HCV-related liver disease patients, their healthcare utilization, their annual direct medical costs, and the interferon-based antiviral treatment rates and costs from 2009 to 2013 in South Korea.
The National Health Insurance database was reviewed, and patients diagnosed with CHC from 2009 to 2013 were extracted. Data regarding detailed healthcare utilization, prescribed drugs, and direct medical costs were obtained. For annual direct healthcare cost calculations, a prevalence-based approach was used.
Overall, 181,768 CHC patients were identified. In 2013, the annual per-patient costs for chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and the first year post-liver transplant were 895, 1,873, 6,945, and 67,359 United States dollars, respectively. Interferon-based antiviral therapeutics were prescribed to 25,223 patients (13.9%).
Healthcare costs have increased remarkably with increasing liver disease severity. Thus, efforts to stop disease progression are needed. Moreover, the low rate of interferon-based therapy indicates an unmet need for DAA.


Antiviral agents; Costs and cost analysis; Hepatitis C; chronic; Pegylated interferon; Ribavirin

MeSH Terms

Antiviral Agents
Carcinoma, Hepatocellular
Costs and Cost Analysis
Delivery of Health Care*
Disease Progression
Health Care Costs*
Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C, Chronic*
Hepatitis, Chronic*
Liver Cirrhosis
Liver Diseases
National Health Programs*
United States
Antiviral Agents
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