Boomers and Hep C: What You Need to KnowPosted by Medicare Made Clear
Anybody can get Hepatitis C, or Hep C, but 75% of adults who are infected are baby boomers.*
The Hep C virus is spread through contact with blood from an infected person. Over time, a Hep C infection can cause serious liver disease and even death.
You may live with a chronic Hep C infection for decades and not know it. There are often no symptoms until advanced liver disease develops.
Hep C can be treated. There are several new medications—some that may even eliminate the virus from the body completely.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all baby boomers get tested for Hep C.
Medicare Covers Hepatitis C Screening
Medicare covers one Hep C screening test. You are eligible for screening if you have Medicare and meet one of these conditions:
- You were born between 1945 and 1965
- You had a blood transfusion before 1992
- You use or have used injected drugs
A primary care doctor or other qualified health care provider must order your Hep C screening test. You pay nothing for the test if the doctor or provider accepts Medicare’s payment terms. You may get repeat screening tests every year if you are at high risk.
Scientists don’t really know why baby boomers have a high rate of Hep C infection. The virus may have been spread by contaminated blood and blood products before the blood supply was routinely screened starting in 1992.
You may be at risk if you received blood transfusions or an organ transplant in the 1970s or 1980s. Other methods of transmission include:
- Sharing needles to inject drugs
- Body piercing equipment
- Tattoo needles or ink
Even if you don’t believe you’ve ever been exposed to Hep C, you should probably get tested. It’s better to know so you can rest easy if you’re not infected or get help if you are. Talk to your doctor about Hep C.
For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.
* Hepatitis C, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed May 20, 2015
Hepatitis C and Baby Boomers: Get more information about Hep C from the CDC.
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