In recent days the Department of Health and Human Services and CDC have released statements maintaining that the cost of the Covid-19 vaccine, including its administration, is free to all Americans. Yet multiple people have taken to social media saying that they were billed an “administration fee” for the vaccine, even if they were not charged for the vaccine itself.
According to the CDC, any Covid-19 vaccine must be provided and administered at no out-of-pocket cost to the recipient. If a Covid-19 vaccine was the sole purpose of the medical visit, no additional “office fees” may be charged either. While vaccine providers are allowed to seek reimbursement from private and public insurance entities, those costs cannot be shared with the patients.
However multiple people have said that they have been erroneously charged by providers and insurance companies under the guise of office visits or administration fees. On Twitter Laura Marsh, a literary editor at The New Republic, wrote that her health insurance company said that the shot itself was free, but that she still owes money due to using an “out-of-network” provider. Other users of the social media site have reported that they were also wrongfully charged fees, and had to wait multiple weeks for refunds.
Even when it comes to charging insurance companies, vaccine providers can be inconsistent. Some private insurance companies have been charged $40-50 per dose for an administration fee, which is legal as long as the insurance companies don’t pass the cost on to consumers. But some insurance entities, including Medicare, are charged fees in the hundreds. The fees can be several times more than what the government has paid Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson for Covid-19 vaccines, which is between $10-$40.
The Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General asks anyone who has been fraudulently charged a fee associated with receiving a Covid-19 vaccine to report the provider requesting a fee to the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS or the website TIPS.HHS.GOV.
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