April 19, 2021

If the COVID shot is free, why show insurance? Expert explains

PORTLAND, Ore. — Although receiving a COVID-19 shot is free for anyone in the U.S.,…

PORTLAND, Ore. — Although receiving a COVID-19 shot is free for anyone in the U.S., providers are asking people to present insurance to help pay other costs.

Angela Dowling is president of Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon. She explained the government pays for the vaccine doses, and insurance can help with the rest.

“For those providers there helping you get the shot, the people who are putting the shot in your arm, there is a cost for administration,” Dowling said.

Presenting insurance at a clinic or vaccination site allows those medical providers to be reimbursed for their time and resources.

The system is also set up to provide free shots to people without insurance.

“Herd immunity is important,” Dowling said. “We just need to make sure we get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) echoed this service mission.

“Patients will never be turned away if they do not have insurance, and patients themselves will not pay for their vaccination visit,” a spokesperson for OHSU said to KGW in a written statement.

Although people will have their insurers billed for the COVID vaccination process, individual consumers will not see the cost.

Another question Dowling answered is: why bother showing insurance, even if you have it?

“It’s important to us as insurance companies to know who’s received their immunization and who hasn’t,” Dowling said. “If you haven’t received your immunization, we’ll make a point of trying to reach out to you and encourage you to get that as well.”

For people without insurance or means to travel to big, centralized vaccination sites, Dowling recommended people pursue mobile clinics.

“Look for those opportunities where clinicians are actually coming to your communities,” she said.

For example, Regence has partnered with Medical Teams International to help provide free COVID vaccinations through traveling clinics in the Pacific Northwest.

“We’re looking to make sure everybody gets vaccinated,” Dowling said.