Get protected from hepatitis

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.

May is Hepatitis Awareness month. To find out more about preventing and treating hepatitis visit the Centers for Disease Control’s Hepatitis web page and check out our video.