Did you know that hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus, kills nearly 1.4 million people worldwide every year?
Hepatitis is contagious. For example, the Hepatitis B virus 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 in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.
Medicare can help keep you protected from the most common types of hepatitis. Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers Hepatitis B shots, which usually are given as a series of 3 shots over a 6-month period (you need all 3 shots for complete protection). Your risk for Hepatitis B increases if you have hemophilia, End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), diabetes, or certain conditions that lower your resistance to infection.
Generally, Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) covers Hepatitis A shots when medically necessary.
There’s a third type of Hepatitis—Hepatitis C. Medicare covers a one-time Hepatitis C screening test if your primary care doctor or practitioner orders it. It also covers yearly repeat screening if 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, or
- You were born between 1945 and 1965
You pay nothing for the Hepatitis C screening test if the doctor or other qualified health care provider accepts assignment.