Complications from hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus, kill nearly 1.4 million people worldwide every year.
Hepatitis is contagious. The Hepatitis B virus spreads through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. Viral hepatitis transmission happens when people come in contact with a contaminated object, like a used needle, where the virus can live for up to 7 days. Hepatitis B can range from being a mild illness, lasting a few weeks to a serious long-term illness that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.
Fortunately, Medicare can help keep you protected from Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C, which are the most common types of viral hepatitis strains in the United States:
- Generally, Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) covers Hepatitis A shots when medically necessary.
- Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers Hepatitis B shots, which are usually given as a series of 3 shots over a 6-month period (you need all 3 shots for complete protection).
- Medicare covers a one-time Hepatitis C screening test if your primary care doctor or practitioner orders it and 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.
- You were born between 1945 and 1965.
May is Hepatitis Awareness Month. Find out more about viral hepatitis prevention and treatment.