With COVID-19 vaccine distribution underway, Americans are inching toward a return to normalcy. While you may likely still be waiting on your turn to be vaccinated, you may have questions related to the logistics of getting your shot, like if you’ll be able to get your COVID-19 vaccine without insurance. Turns out, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to get the vaccine if you’re uninsured. In fact, you won’t have to pay anything at all.
“Fortunately, the vaccine will be given to all Americans at no cost, even for those without insurance,” says Dr. Robert Cole, MD, an intensive care medicine specialist in Camden, New Jersey, and author of How to Build a Smile. “Vaccine providers can charge a fee to administer it, which is then reimbursed by the patient’s private or public insurance.”
The reason the vaccine is available at no cost is because the doses have been purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). And if you’re uninsured and concerned about paying the administrative fee? You can rest assured that you can’t be denied a vaccine because of this.
“In this case, the fee will be reimbursed by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund or through payment to the provider via the CARES Act Relief Fund,” Dr. Cole explains, citing the CDC. You may have to fill out a bit of paperwork demonstrating your understanding of the vaccine, Dr. Cole adds, but private clinics or pharmacies will take care of submitting for the reimbursement.
With the big money question answered, you’ll want to do your research to find out where you’ll be able to get your shot. If you don’t have a primary care doctor, your best bet may be to seek out the vaccine from a local public health site. Even with the vaccine being prepaid and the administrative cost being reimbursed, procedures may vary based on where you live, adds Dr. Eudene Harry, MD, a board-certified emergency medicine physician in Orlando, Florida.
“It is best to call your county up or go on their website to look for sites that administer the vaccines,” she says. “These sites, such as your local health department, most likely participate in the reimbursement program for administrative cost.” You’ll also want to make sure to inquire about scheduling your second dose in three weeks after receiving your initial one, if your vaccine site doesn’t automatically do it for you.
Ultimately, while it may seem like you’ll need to jump through hoops to secure your shot, you can make the process more seamless by doing your research and being prepared when it's your turn to receive it.
Dr. Robert Cole, MD
Dr. Eudene Harry, MD