COVID-19 vaccine will be provided at no cost to the public

Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee held a COVID vaccine clinic for frontline workers on Dec. 15. (Photo: Advocate Aurora Health)

Last updated on December 29th, 2020 at 11:59 am

The COVID-19 vaccine will be provided at no cost for all Wisconsin residents, regardless of their insurance status, the Wisconsin Office of Commissioner of Insurance confirmed this week.

OCI issued a bulletin saying all health insurers are prohibited from applying cost-sharing for the vaccine or for any costs associated with the administration of the vaccine, per federal guidance. Anyone without health insurance will also be able to get vaccinated without out-of-pocket costs.

The federal CARES Act requires any COVID-19 vaccine to be covered at no cost to consumers, along with testing, office visits and urgent care or emergency room visits associated with COVID-19.

Under the CARES act, private health insurance plans are required to cover all costs associated with the COVID-19 vaccine during the pandemic, even if an out-of-network provider administers it, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation brief.

As part of the Operation Warp Speed effort, the federal government has already paid for hundreds of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which allow them to be distributed for free to providers who administer them during the pandemic.

“As distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine continues, we want to ensure that every Wisconsinite knows they have access to the vaccine without any cost barriers,” said OCI commissioner Mark Afable. “Regardless of who your insurance company is, or if you even have insurance coverage, Wisconsin residents can be assured that they will not be charged to get the COVID-19 vaccine.”

It will be several months before the COVID vaccine is distributed to the general public, with many projecting widespread inoculation to happen in mid-summer 2021. The vaccine is currently being distributed to health care workers and people in long-term care and assisted living facilities.

Following the pandemic, if the COVID vaccine is needed as a regular, annual vaccine it’s expected that it would be covered through similar programs and insurance types that cover other vaccines, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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