While you might not be paying for getting the COVID-19 shot, your health insurance is

Posted at 7:24 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 19:24:29-04

NORTH FORT MYERS — Even though the Federal Government pays for the COVID-19 shot, it doesn’t always cover the cost of administering it.

That’s what one woman found out, after she got her shot at a Publix in North Fort Myers. The woman didn’t want to be identified, but she showed us the bill that clearly stated it was from Publix.

“When I opened it and saw a $40 charge for my COVID vaccine, I couldn’t believe it, because I was under the impression it was free," said the woman.

She was under that impression because, on the Florida Department of Health website, it says “No matter where you get the vaccine, whether from a state site, a church or a retail pharmacy like CVS or Publix, there is no charge.”

But Economist Victor Claar at Florida Gulf Coast University said someone has to pay the cost to have a trained professional give you the shot.

"They do have an opportunity cost of providing that vaccine, and the administrative fee simply covers costs," said Claar.

The Centers for Disease Control says on its website, that fee can be billed to your insurance. That’s what happened in the woman’s case.

“Even though I didn’t pay it per se, it’s coming out of my benefits. It’s being paid by my medicare," said the woman.

She’s not alone in her concern.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 1.6 million Americans surveyed at the beginning of June did not want to get the shot because they were worried it might cost them something.

According to Claar, we still don’t know if administration fees will result in higher premiums and deductibles down the road, but he said, it’s better than the alternative.

"I think we don’t yet know how costly this administrative fee will be for insurance companies. I guess the good news is the trade off is paying an administrative cost of $40 versus paying for somebody’s stay in the intensive care unit because they get COVID, then maybe on balance this will be a winner," said Claar.

For the woman, she just wants a heads up in the future, before any more bills arrive at her door.

“I think Publix somehow should have mentioned it when they gave the vaccine," said the woman.

We did reach out to Publix, but we did not immediately hear back.

It’s important to note, you will never be personally billed for vaccine administration costs. If you don’t have insurance, the Federal Government has set money aside to cover those costs.