GAITHERSBURG, Md., May 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The HealthWell Foundation®, an independent non-profit that provides a financial lifeline for inadequately insured Americans, today announced the launch of a new fund to assist people living with hepatitis C (also known as HCV).
Through the fund, the HealthWell Foundation will provide copayment assistance for HCV treatment, up to $15,000, to eligible patients who are insured and have annual household incomes up to 500 percent of the federal poverty level. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 30 baby boomers has HCV.
"The new generation of hepatitis C treatments has brought excitement to patients who have been hoping for a breakthrough," said Krista Zodet, HealthWell Foundation President. "Through the generosity of our donors, our Hepatitis C Fund is able to help more people receive these treatments while minimizing the worry over financial stress."
"Nearly 3.2 million people in the United States and about 150 million people worldwide are chronically infected with HCV," said Tom Nealon, Esq., National Board Chair of the American Liver Foundation, a national patient advocacy organization that promotes education, support and research for the prevention, treatment and cure of liver disease. "The HealthWell Foundation and other independent copay charities play a vital role in seeing that those who are insured but can't afford their medication copay are able to access and stay on treatment."
According to BOOM!Health, a community service organization located in the Bronx, New York, 75 percent of those with HCV don't know it. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for hepatitis C virus in persons at high risk for infection and a one-time screening for ALL adults born between 1945 and 1965 (baby boomers).
The most important risk factor for HCV infection is past or current injection drug use, with most studies reporting a prevalence of 50 percent or more. Many HCV infections are identified only after the patient becomes symptomatic. This makes the role of community health centers extremely important for getting patients into care.
"People living with HCV continue to face serious challenges, such as stigma and lack of access to treatment," said Robert Cordero, President and Chief Program Officer, BOOM!Health. "Non-profits that provide funding assistance like HealthWell fill a gap that we've watched grow."
To determine eligibility and apply for assistance through the HealthWell Foundation's Hepatitis C Fund, or to learn how you can support this program, visit the Foundation's website at www.HealthWellFoundation.org.
About Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a disease that results from the hepatitis C virus (HCV) infecting the liver. The other common hepatitis viruses are A and B, which differ somewhat from HCV in the way they are spread and treated.
According to the American Liver Foundation, HCV usually produces no symptoms or very mild symptoms in the early stages. Many do not know they are infected until there is liver damage, which sometimes is discovered decades after being infected. HCV can be short-term, lasting up to six months (acute hepatitis C) or long-term (chronic) hepatitis C, which doesn't go away. About 75 to 85 percent of those infected by the hepatitis C virus will develop chronic HCV.
Other risk factors for contracting HCV in addition to sharing needles include:
- Using unsterile equipment for tattoos or body piercings;
- Coming in contact with infected blood or needles;
- Receiving a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992;
- Receiving a blood product for clotting problems made before 1987;
- Needing blood filtered by a machine (hemodialysis) for a long period of time due to kidney failure;
- Being born to a mother with HCV;
- Having unprotected sex with multiple partners;
- Having or had a sexually transmitted disease; and,
- Having HIV
About the HealthWell Foundation
A nationally recognized independent non-profit organization founded in 2003, the HealthWell Foundation® has served as a safety net for underinsured patients by providing access to life-changing medical treatments they otherwise would not be able to afford.
HealthWell provides financial assistance to adults and children facing medical hardship resulting from gaps in their insurance that cause out-of-pocket medical expenses to escalate rapidly. HealthWell assists these patients with their treatment-related cost-sharing obligations. To date, HealthWell has provided grant assistance to over 200,000 Americans totaling nearly $900 million.
For more information, please visit www.HealthWellFoundation.org.
SOURCE HealthWell Foundation