A general practitioner may diagnose hepatitis C and treat it too in case of mild infection but that comes with exposure and experience.
A patient’s option of consulting a non-liver specialist is determined by his agreement with the insurance companies. Some Medicaid plans have instituted stringent reimbursement clauses for hep C, approving only the gastroenterologists, hepatologists and ID medicos.
Even HIV physicians who are not ID specialists are disallowed.
Some states in U.S. have excluded ID specialists in totality,with coverage extended to liver disease specialists.
The physician community has reprimanded these policies and insist that hepatitis C is a viral disease which can be treated by infectious disease and non ID specialists by antiviral therapy. They view it as a means of exploitation due to the rising costs of HCV treatment.
The dearth of hepatologists, gastroenterologists and ID doctors is a major issue. Majority of patients affected by HCV are covered by Medicaid who are such poor payers that these specialists do not accept them.