You don’t pay, but there may still be a bill to settle for COVID-19 vaccine

Since testing and now vaccines began for the coronavirus, many people might have wondered why insurance information is wanted for both when they’re supposed to be funded. The short answer is there is still a bill to settle even if you don’t have to pay.

When it comes to getting tested for COVID-19, Carmen Jankowski didn’t hesitate. She received the vaccine in Cape Coral recently.

“I feel very comfortable and happy that I did it,” Jankowski said.

With some registration forms asking for insurance information, concerns about hidden costs, surprise bills or higher premiums can lead to hesitation toward the vaccine.

Experts say there is nothing to worry about.

“That form is on there because it’s a variable pay system typically for people who go to the DOH for normal vaccinations,” said Brian Gleason, the public information officer for Charlotte County. “There’s no payment required for COVID-19 vaccinations, so they can just leave that blank. If they feel more comfortable putting their insurance information in there, it doesn’t matter, there’s no charge to it, so their insurance would not be charged.”

But that doesn’t mean other providers can’t charge administrative fees.

“It costs the provider something to hire a nurse or a paramedic to give the vaccine,” explained Karen Pollitz, the senior fellow with Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. “It costs them something to store the vaccine, to keep records about who got it and on what dates.”

Those costs are either picked up by insurance providers or the federal government, but never the patient.

“They want people to get vaccinated and tested and will do everything out of their way to make sure there are no hurdles, especially financially,” said Jon Hess, the CEO for Athos Health.

“Anybody who tries to bill right now for a COVID vaccine could be fined by the federal government,” Pollitz said.

In Charlotte County, Joseph Pepe, the administrator for the county’s Florida Department of Health, explained why insurance information might be requested even though it’s free.

“The form is used for multiple types of clinic settings,” Pepe explained. “At this time, we are not charging nor collecting insurance information.”

The reason vaccines are free is the same reason anyone can get a vaccine even if they don’t live in a particular county: It’s a federal program; therefore, the vaccines need to be available to everyone.

If you get a bill you feel is incorrect, email us at [email protected].

Health Resources and Services Administration statement

According to HRSA, Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone. Vaccine providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.

You can find the answer to more questions related to vaccines on the CDC’s website here:

Information for Providers on how to file claims for reimbursement for testing, treating and vaccinating the uninsured can be found here:

Florida Division of Emergency management statement

According to the state division, Vaccines purchased by the federal government are available free of charge. However, vaccination providers are able to charge an administration fee for administering the shot. Per CDC guidance, vaccine providers can be reimbursed for this fee through an individual’s insurance provider.

By an individual providing their insurance information and charging insurance companies, the state can direct other spending to additional COVID-19 resources such as PPE distribution, nurses and supporting county-response efforts. Individuals who choose to present their insurance will never be asked to pay a copay or a deductible.

This process is similar to providing health insurance information at state-supported testing sites — which has been a standard practice since state-supported sites began operating.

It’s important to note – individuals can receive a COVID-19 vaccine for free, regardless if they currently have insurance. Providing insurance is completely optional and the state does not charge for individuals to receive the vaccine. The state remains committed to ensuring the vaccine remains free and accessible to Floridians.

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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