Hepatitis C (hep C) is a viral infection that affects the liver and may cause severe complications, like liver failure. Hep C medications can be expensive, especially without insurance, but there are options to help with the cost.

Hep C is an infection caused by a virus that transmits through contact with blood containing the virus. It causes liver inflammation and complications like cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver damage.

Symptoms range from mild to severe, and while some people have an acute infection — where the virus clears on its own within weeks — others live with chronic hepatitis.

It’s possible to cure chronic hep C with medication, but treatment is expensive, especially if you don’t have insurance.

The cost of hep C treatment varies depending on the type of drug. An 8- to 12-week course can range from $23,000–$95,000 or higher without insurance.

For example, the price of a 12-week course of elbasvir/grazoprevir (Zepatier) can be as much as $56,023 without insurance.

If you don’t have insurance, you have to pay the full amount out of pocket. Even with insurance, the cost can range into the thousands after adding in drug copays and coinsurance. These copays and deductibles vary depending on the insurance company, specific plan, and coverage.

If you qualify for patient assistant programs, you might receive your medication for as little as $5 or less out of pocket.

Treatment for hep C involves the use of antiviral drugs, which are medications that help the body fight off different viruses. Antiviral treatment often lasts 8–12 weeks.

Since hep C treatment is expensive, medications aren’t always as accessible to those without insurance. Here’s what you can do if you don’t have insurance.

1. Shop health insurance plans

Even though health insurance can be expensive, your monthly premium through an employer might be considerably less than the cost of treating hep C without insurance. If that’s not an option, you can research coverage options at the United States Health Insurance Marketplace during open enrollment periods.

Even with private or individual health insurance, your insurance company might not cover the cost of hep C treatment unless you’re very sick and only if you don’t use drugs or alcohol. It’s important to find out all you can about your coverage terms for hep C treatment before choosing a plan.

2. Enroll in a government health plan

If you can’t get private health insurance, explore U.S. government health benefits.

Besides looking into the Health Insurance Marketplace, if you’re 65 or older or have a disability, you might qualify for Medicare, a federal health insurance program. Also, your income could qualify you for your state’s Medicaid program. Veterans can research VA health benefits, too.

3. Apply for patient assistance programs

Another option is a patient assistance program. Pharmaceutical companies sponsor these and give people in low income households access to medications.

Keep in mind that you’re only eligible for patient assistance programs if you are not enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, or another government prescription plan. These programs provide financial assistance, reducing your copays and coinsurance for medication.

Assistance varies, so you’ll need to contact drug companies directly to learn about their specific programs. Some examples include:

Gilead/Asegua Therapeutics LLC

  • sofosbuvir/velpatasvir (Epclusa)
  • ledipasvir/sofosbuvir (Harvoni)

Abbvie, Inc.

  • glecaprevir/pibrentasvir (Mavyret)
  • ribavirin (Moderiba)


  • Zepatier

The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable also provides information on getting financial assistance or copay relief.

4. Clinical trials

Talk with your liver specialist to see if you’re eligible for upcoming hep C clinical trials. These trials study the safety and efficacy of certain antiviral medications in treating hep C. You can visit Clinicaltrials.gov to find eligible studies, too.

It’s important to note that although the trial covers the cost of research-related treatments and testing, you’re financially responsible for your travel costs and other expenses, like meals.

You’re also responsible for routine lab tests and any doctor’s visits you need during the trial. Make sure to talk with your liver specialist before enrolling in a clinical trial to understand the costs associated with participating.

Getting free or low cost medication through a patient assistance program is possible if you meet specific requirements. It’s important to understand what additional costs you might be responsible for when enrolling in this type of program.

Eligibility requirements differ by the pharmaceutical company. They determine eligibility based on your income from the previous year and household size.

Typically, those with incomes below the federal poverty line qualify. For example, someone from a two-person household earning $20,440 a year or less might be eligible for free medication. Someone from a four-person household with an income of $31,200 a year or less may also qualify.

Be prepared to provide proof of income before receiving free or discounted medication. The company will verify your current income and review your most recent federal tax return.

Hep C drugs are in high demand, with an estimated 2.4 million people in the U.S. living with the infection. This contributes to the high cost of medications.

The cost of research and development of the drugs is also expensive, and since these medications have a high cure rate — and there isn’t a lot of competition — there’s little incentive for drug companies to lower the cost.

Hepatitis C can affect your liver and cause severe complications like liver cancer and liver failure. Treatment is often effective, but the high cost of medication makes these drugs inaccessible for many people, especially those without insurance.

You have options if you can’t afford treatment. Start by researching private health insurance and government health plans. If these aren’t an option, reach out to drug companies directly. You might qualify for a patient assistant program depending on your income and family size.