ATLANTA — As the vaccine rollout continues across Georgia, the 11Alive Verify team is tracking tracking your questions, and some viewers have reached out inquiring about surprise vaccines when it comes to the vaccine.
Can healthcare providers charge an administration fee for the vaccine?
Yes, providers can charge an administration fee, but there should be no out-of-pocket cost for the individual getting the vaccine.
WHAT WE FOUND
The CDC pre-purchased initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine with your tax dollars. As a result, the agency says vaccines are supposed to be free.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, all healthcare providers in the CDC's COVID-19 vaccination program agree to give the vaccine regardless of someone's ability to pay and regardless of coverage status.
"As a condition of receiving free COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government, providers will be prohibited from charging consumers for administration of the vaccine," an October CMS briefing stated.
At the same time, the CDC's website indicates health care providers can indeed charge an administration fee to help cover storage or staffing costs.
According to the agency, vaccination providers can be reimbursed for vaccine administration fees by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.
"No one can be denied a vaccine if they are unable to pay a vaccine administration fee," the website states.
"There are really no loopholes here," Krutika Amin, Associate Director at Kaiser Family Foundation for the Program on the ACA, said. "The providers will have their costs covered either through the insurance or the federal government fund. They might ask you for your insurance information if you're insured, but you will not be charged anything."
A spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Health also confirmed "there is not to be any out-of-pocket cost to individuals for the vaccine."
But know if your doctor's visit includes medical needs beyond the vaccine, that's when you could face a separate charge.
"If you're getting another procedure done, there might be another bill associated for that, but for the COVID vaccine itself, people will not get charged," Amin said.
In summary, are providers allowed to charge an administration fee?
Our sources confirm yes, that's allowed, but that fee should be paid by insurance companies or the federal government's relief fund, not by those needing the vaccine.