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Medicare and Vaccines: What You Need to Know

Medicare coverage for vaccines

Immunizations or vaccines can help prevent diseases and injuries, which is why Medicare frequently pays for them. Medicare programs cover the expenses of several vaccines (and their administration), including those for Hepatitis B, Influenza, and Pneumonia.  

Getting the necessary vaccines is one of the most crucial things you can do for your health – and the wellness of those around you. Vaccines work as the first line of defense against many infectious diseases. Thus, if you don’t get ill, you can’t infect your family, friends, colleagues, or others in your community. 

Continue reading to learn which components of Medicare provide these vaccines and whether you are up-to-date on your vaccinations.

Vaccines Covered by Medicare

Vaccines are essential for preventing diseases and keeping you healthy. Because vaccines may become less effective over time, you should consult your doctor about how often you take specific ones.

Medicare Part B is the portion of original Medicare that pays for medical expenses. It also includes various immunizations. These are some examples:

  • Hepatitis B immunizations (for patients at intermediate or high risk of the health condition; however, if you do not meet the standard criteria, you may still be able to receive the vaccine through your Medicare Part D prescription coverage).
  • Pneumonia (pneumococcal) vaccines.
  • Influenza vaccines.
  • Vaccines used for the treatment of an injury (such as rabies and tetanus).
  • Immunizations used to reduce your chances of contracting a condition or disease.

Shots and vaccines that Medicare Parts A and B do not cover, but Part D does include:

  • The Zoster (shingles) vaccines.
  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (Tdap) vaccines.
  • MMR (mumps, measles, and rubella) vaccines.

Will Medicare Plan Cover a New Coronavirus Vaccine when it Becomes Available?

There is currently no vaccine available for the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). However, many pharmaceutical companies are working on vaccines in the hopes of protecting against the Coronavirus. 

A vaccine would help this pandemic that has taken the lives of thousands of Americans. According to the CARES Act, Medicare coverage and Medicare Advantage plan will cover the costs whenever a coronavirus vaccine becomes available.

The CARES Acts declared that people with Medicare would not need to pay any cost-sharing for these vaccines. This means you won’t be required to pay a deductible or copay to get coronavirus vaccines.

Which Medicare Plans Provide Coverage for Vaccines?

Medicare program is divided into different parts, each of which covers a specific set of medical costs. Below is what each Medicare part may or may not provide when it comes to vaccines:

Part A: Part A of the Original Medicare is the portion that covers the medical center and inpatient stays. Typically, it doesn’t include vaccines. Even if you are in the health center and receive a flu shot (or other vaccination), the hospital will bill your Medicare Part B coverage.   

Part B: Part B is the component of traditional Medicare that supports the majority of medical expenses. The vaccines covered by Medicare are listed above. 

Part C: Medicare Advantage or Part C is an alternative to conventional Medicare (Part A & Part B). Medicare Advantage programs are expected to cover all vaccines that traditional Medicare covers.

Part D: Part D of Medicare covers prescription drugs. If Medicare Part B does not cover vaccines, this will pay for them. Your Part D drug plan (list of covered medicines) should mention which vaccines are covered by your health plan.

Medigap: Medigap is Medicare supplemental insurance that helps pay for out-of-pocket costs associated with medical care. Medigap policy doesn’t cover vaccine expenses because there are no out-of-pocket costs for vaccines accepted under Part B.  

It’s always best to find out how Medicare will pay for your vaccine before you take it. Medicare may have some rules: for example, you may be required to obtain the vaccine from a specific company or Medicare-approved facility.

What are the Costs of Vaccines?

The prices for vaccines depend on which part of the Medicare plan pays and the type of vaccine.

You don’t need to pay anything for vaccines covered by Medicare Part B. However, if you have Part C ( Medicare Advantage), you should discuss it with your insurance provider. 

You might need to obtain your vaccine from a supplier or pharmacy approved by your insurance plan. Therefore, you don’t have to spend anything for your vaccine if you follow the rules and guidelines of your Medicare Advantage plan.

If you receive a Part D vaccine, your Part D insurance agency will negotiate a cost that includes the vaccine and its administration. The prices are as follows: 

  • sales tax
  • dispensing fee
  • vaccine administration costs
  • vaccine component costs

Your provider (or whoever administered the vaccine) will directly charge you for the Part D plan. Therefore, you might be liable for costs such as coinsurance or copayment.

Sometimes, your coverage may necessitate you to pay your provider for the Medicare Part D vaccine in advance and then submit a request for reimbursement to your Part D coverage. In this case, you should contact your insurance company before getting the vaccine to ensure that you are covered. 

Are You Up-to-Date on Your Vaccines?

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) makes immunization recommendations based on age. Check out this list to ensure you’re up to date.

Vaccines recommended for senior citizens ages 65 and older or those who have never been infected: 

  • Influenza vaccine: one dose each year.
  • Tdap booster: every ten years, or once if you haven’t had the vaccine before.
  • The zoster (shingles) vaccines can be either live or recombinant (preferred) vaccines.
  • Pneumococcal vaccine: 1 dosage at age 65.

The CDC recommends these immunizations if you have a risk factor for the health condition or any other indication that a physician may suggest. Among these are:

  • Varicella: 2 doses if you were not immunized before the age of 65.
  • Hepatitis A: 2 or 3 shots, depending on the type of vaccine.
  • Hepatitis B: 2 or 3 shots, depending on the type of vaccine.
  • Meningococcal A, C, W, and Y: 1 to 2 applications. It might also required boosters.
  • Meningococcal B: 2 to 3 shots. It will also include booster shots.
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b: 1 to 3 doses as prescribed by a doctor.

Takeaways:

  • Vaccines can help you stay healthy by preventing many diseases that make individuals seriously ill.
  • Several of these costs are covered by Medicare Part B, and the rest are frequently covered by Medicare Part D.
  • Contact your insurance company to ensure that you are getting your vaccine from an authorized provider; this can help keep your expenses at a minimum. 

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