Healthcare Costs for Medicare Patients With Hepatocellular Carcinoma in the United States. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND & AIMS: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has an increasing mortality in the United States and is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with cirrhosis. We aimed to estimate the financial burden related to HCC in a large nationally representative United States cohort. METHODS: We used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program (SEER)-Medicare database to identify 4525 adult patients who were diagnosed with HCC between 2011 and 2015. We generated a 1:1 propensity score-matched cohort of patients with cirrhosis but no HCC as a comparator group to define incremental HCC-specific costs beyond costs related to underlying cirrhosis. Our main outcomes were patient liabilities and Medicare payments in the first year after HCC diagnosis. RESULTS: Compared with patients with cirrhosis, those with HCC had higher incremental patient liabilities (median+$7166; interquartile range, $2401-$16,099) and Medicare payments (+$50,110; interquartile range, $142,42-$136,239; P < .001 for both) in the first year after diagnosis. Patients with HCC had significantly higher inpatient, outpatient, and physician service costs compared with the matched cohort with cirrhosis (P < .001 for all). Patients with early-stage HCC had lower incremental patient liabilities (median, $4195 vs $8238; P < .001) and Medicare payments (median, $28,207 vs $59,509; P < .001) than those with larger tumor burden. In multivariable median regression analysis, incremental patient liabilities and Medicare payments were significantly associated with the National Cancer Institute comorbidity index, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease etiology, presence of ascites, and presence of hepatic encephalopathy. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with HCC suffer from cancer-related financial burden, highlighting a need for policy interventions and financial support systems.

published proceedings

  • Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol

author list (cited authors)

  • Karim, M. A., Ramezani, M., Leroux, T., Kum, H., & Singal, A. G.

publication date

  • November 2022