New COVID vaccine might cost you, but it shouldn’t

Americans have paid up to $200 for the jab due to “glitches” in insurance systems. And Wyomingites are no exception.
The new COVID vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and up. (Focal Foto/CC by 2.0)

by | Sep 29, 2023 | COVID-19, Health

A needle to the skin hurts enough. A shot to the wallet is a whole other conundrum. 

Since the new COVID-19 shot started hitting shelves last week, insurance systems have seen hiccups. The Washington Post reported last week that Americans across the country were denied insurance coverage or charged up to $200 for the latest COVID vaccine. 

And Wyomingites are no exception.

“In Wyoming, a few members did encounter some issues with processing COVID vaccines at the pharmacy,” said Abbey Palma, Wyoming’s Blue Cross Blue Shield communications and outreach coordinator.

The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ended last spring, so the federal government is no longer covering the costs of COVID vaccines for those insured. Instead, the Department of Health and Human Services says insurance companies are tasked with full coverage, “without a co-pay,” for in-network providers.

But many companies have seen technical “glitches,” according to Palma.

National representatives with Blue Cross Blue Shield, CVS Health, Cigna and United Healthcare, among other health insurance companies, met Wednesday to examine those issues in vaccine coverage.

Palma said BCBS corrected its coding complications last week. And, to ensure members are receiving zero-cost coverage for COVID vaccines, she said BCBS staff have started hand-processing impacted claims and encourage folks to reach out in the event they had to pay out-of-pocket for their shot.

Demand for shots

Local CVS Pharmacist Doug Allen estimated around 50 people a day have expressed interest in the latest COVID vaccine. 

”It seems like everybody and their mother is looking for it right now,” Allen said.

The Teton County Health Department is reinstating its COVID vaccination clinic again starting Tuesday, though appointments are booked solid until the following week, according to Rachael Wheeler, the county’s public health coordinator. 

To secure a spot, residents can visit the county’s COVID appointment website. For BCBS members, the COVID vaccine is covered at all providers in town, with the exception of CVS Pharmacy.

Uninsured and under-insured folks can receive the vaccine cost-free through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Bridge Access Program — until Dec. 31. All vaccine providers in town, including the county health department and pharmacies at CVS, Albertsons and Smith’s, are participating in this program.

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