SHREVEPORT, La — Roughly 32% of the U.S. population is now currently fully vaccinated. Many have received their shots in mass vaccination clinics, some in pharmacies. And while those with insurance are asked to provide insurance cards, there are no out-of-pocket costs to get a vaccine.
But the vaccine does not come without a cost. The federal government is paying the drug companies for the shots, and vaccine providers are not charging individuals for them. However, providers do get reimbursed for the manpower and paperwork involved.
Dr. John Vanchiere, professor of infectious disease and pediatrics at LSU Health Shreveport who has led the charge in mass vaccinations in north Louisiana, said the reimbursement was initially $16 for the first shot and $28 for the second. But in March, Medicare raised that reimbursement to $40 per shot. Typically, other insurance companies follow Medicare’s lead.
“All the vaccine doses have been provided by the federal government, so there is no charge for that. So the pharmacies and anybody who’s vaccinating, including our groups, are not making any money off the vaccine itself,” said Vanchiere. “But we do get reimbursed by insurance or by the federal government for the administration of the dose of vaccine, because it takes a nurse or qualified person, and we have to record it in our system and report it back to the state. So, we have some overhead costs associated with that.”
The increase in reimbursement is due to new information about the costs involved in administering the vaccine properly and safely. It also supports patient outreach and education, Vanchiere said.