1RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dublin, Ireland; Health Information and Quality Authority, Dublin, Ireland. Electronic address: email@example.com.
2Health Information and Quality Authority, Dublin, Ireland.
3National Virus Reference Laboratory, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.
4Health Economics & Policy Analysis Centre, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland; CÚRAM, The SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices (12/RC/2073_2), National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland.
5National Hepatitis C Treatment Program, Dublin, Ireland.
6Department of Public Health and Primary Care, School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.
7Health Information and Quality Authority, Dublin, Ireland; Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Trinity College Dublin, Trinity Health Sciences, St James's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.
Objectives: We aimed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of offering once-off birth cohort testing for hepatitis C virus (HCV) to people in Ireland born between 1965 and 1985, the cohort with the highest reported prevalence of undiagnosed chronic HCV infection.
Methods: Systematic and opportunistic HCV birth cohort testing programs, implemented over a 4-year timeframe, were compared with the current practice of population risk-based testing only in a closed-cohort decision tree and Markov model hybrid over a lifetime time horizon. Outcomes were expressed in quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs). Costs were presented from the health system's perspective in 2020 euro (€). Uncertainty was assessed via deterministic, probabilistic, scenario, and threshold analyses.
Results: In the base case, systematic testing yielded the largest cost and health benefits, followed by opportunistic testing and risk-based testing. Compared with risk-based testing, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for opportunistic testing was €14 586 (95% confidence interval €4185-€33 527) per QALY gained. Compared with opportunistic testing, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for systematic testing was €16 827 (95% confidence interval €5106-€38 843) per QALY gained. These findings were robust across a range of sensitivity analyses.
Conclusions: Both systematic and opportunistic birth cohort testing would be considered an efficient use of resources, but systematic testing was the optimal strategy at willingness-to-pay threshold values typically used in Ireland. Although cost-effective, any decision to introduce birth cohort testing for HCV (in Ireland or elsewhere) must be balanced with considerations regarding the feasibility and budget impact of implementing a national testing program given high initial costs and resource use.