The hepatitis C drug Harvoni has been hailed as a “miracle cure” with over 95% success and few side effects, but with a $99,000 price tag, health insurance companies are doing anything they can to deny coverage for all but the sickest patients.

Harvoni and Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a chronic, progressive, and often fatal disease that afflicts about 3 million people in the United States. Without treatment, it can last for decades and cause severe scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), chronic fatigue, jaundice, and other debilitating symptoms.

Harvoni is one of the best treatments for hepatitis C, but because it is so expensive, many health insurance companies say they will not provide coverage unless the patient has fibrosis or cirrhosis of the liver.

The problem is that it often takes many years for the disease to progresses to cirrhosis. By that time, scarring of the liver may be irreversible and symptoms like fatigue and chronic pain can be extremely debilitating. In the meantime, the patient is highly-contagious and can transmit the infection to another person.