Title: Charging Errors Plague COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout, Leaving Patients Frustrated
ACTON – Glen Cote, a resident of Acton, Massachusetts, had an unexpected surprise when he arrived for his scheduled COVID-19 vaccine appointment at CVS. Just minutes before his appointment, he received a text alert notifying him that the vaccine would cost $190.99. This unexpected charge left Cote shocked and frustrated, as he is covered by MassHealth, the state’s program for Medicaid.
The new COVID-19 vaccine, which was recently approved by the FDA and CDC, was supposed to be shipped to area pharmacies with signs outside many CVS stores stating “FREE FLU & COVID-19 vaccines here.” However, numerous posts on social media across the country indicate that several individuals are being charged anywhere between $125 and $190 for the shot.
The vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna are designed to target newer variants of the virus, and experts have recommended that Americans receive them along with their annual flu shots this year. Initially, COVID-19 vaccines were provided free of charge, covered by the federal government. However, with the end of the Public Health Emergency earlier this year, various insurance plans have not updated their billing codes to cover the new vaccines, leading to erroneous charges for individuals seeking the vaccine in the first week.
CVS and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have acknowledged the problem and attributed it to insurance plans not yet reflecting the new billing code for the updated COVID-19 vaccines. They assure patients that their pharmacy teams can assist in rescheduling appointments for a later date if insurance coverage is not available yet.
Glen Cote expressed disappointment in the lack of a smooth vaccine rollout and the absence of answers to address the situation. His frustration led him to reach out to WBZ, stating, “I thought that we’re supposed to take care of each other in the richest country on earth, and I can’t even get a COVID booster to keep myself and my friends and family safe.” He also raised concerns about the potential difficulties faced by individuals in more complex situations and the additional burden it may place on them.
It is essential for insurance companies and healthcare providers to promptly update their systems to ensure seamless coverage for the new COVID-19 vaccines. This will prevent individuals from experiencing unexpected charges and allow them to prioritize their health and well-being during this ongoing pandemic crisis.
News Article by Kristina Rex, WBZ-TV News reporter.