Bonkers pricing of "free" flu shots shows what's wrong with United States healthcare

Henrietta Brewer
November 21, 2019

"It's that delicate game of trying to allocate staffing resources to anticipate a demand, and sometimes the guess is off", Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon's Chief Medical Officer of Health, said on Tuesday.

Bai said the variation in payments for flu shots has nothing to do with the cost of the drug but is a result of negotiations between health plans and providers.

"The staff are really trying to do their best, you know, forgoing breaks and working through to accommodate everyone that's there", Hanley said. When everyone gets a flu shot, we are protecting the very young who don't get the shot as well as the elderly and others with complicated health problems for whom the shot doesn't work as well.

"What a plan reimburses a pharmacy/clinic/medical center for a flu vaccine depends on the plan's contracted rate with that entity, which can be affected by a number of factors including location, number of available pharmacies/facilities in that area (a.k.a. competition), and even the size of the plan (a.k.a. potential customers)", Cigna said in a statement.

Between 4,000 and 8,000 Canadians die each year from complications of flu and about 20,000 people with the flu are hospitalized.

The flat immunization rates worry public health officials who say the vaccine is the best weapon to prevent the flu, which caused as many as 61,000 deaths during the last flu season and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations.

Public health officials recommend that almost all people get the flu shot.

While patients are insulated from the direct cost of the flu shot, after a while, higher prices, such as the $85 per shot, add up for insurers, leading them to push the expenses back onto members through higher premiums, Galewitz reports. You can get those from your health care provider and most pharmacies.

The dreaded flu season has officially arrived in Waterloo Region. And this is not just a problem for flu shots.

Pharmacists are allowed to administer flu shots, but the operational measures are still under development, he said. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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