COVID-19 vaccine coverage issues resolved, payer execs say

Private insurers are covering the full cost of COVID-19 vaccines for beneficiaries this fall, payer executives told HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. 

Mr. Becerra met with executives from major payers and industry associations Sept. 27, according to a readout of the meeting.  

The rollout of updated COVID-19 vaccines, approved by the FDA earlier in September, had been waylaid by supply issues and insurance delays. Some individuals were denied coverage for the vaccine, with some insurers blaming the denial on coding issues, according to a Sept. 22 report in the New York Times. 

The new shots are the first COVID-19 vaccines to be paid for by commercial insurers. Following the expiration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the federal government will no longer cover the cost of the vaccines, leaving insurers to pick up the tab. 

In a letter to Mr. Becerra, AHIP, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, the Alliance of Community Health Plans and Association for Community Affiliated Plans assured the agency their members are committed to covering the costs of vaccines for members. 

"As vaccines become more available across the country, we will continue to proactively educate consumers on where they can find available vaccines in-network without cost sharing," the groups wrote. "We all share your goal that every American who seeks the updated COVID vaccine may receive it quickly, conveniently, and without cost-sharing, so that they may protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities." 

HHS' Bridge Access Program will provide free COVID-19 vaccines to the uninsured.

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