Another warning about the flu season hit the press the other day. The flu is supposed to strike early and hard this year so they are warning us to all get flu shots.
In the past it was a bit difficult because of shortages. It was recommended that people who were at high risk of complications received the shots; now it is recommended for all of us. There is supposed to be no shortage of available vaccine this season.
I have gotten the shot in the past and have breezed through the flu seasons easily. Last year I missed and suffered through a bout, so I am determined to get a shot this year.
I also want the grandkids to get them since they are both in school and will be exposed to far greater risks than I will to the viruses. These kids are on Medicaid, which wouldn't be important, except that is what this column is really about.
I started with calling their pediatrician to see if I could get them in. The doctors office was willing to give them shots until they found out they were on Medicaid.
Medicaid people can only have a shot paid for by Medicaid if they get them from the set aside Medicaid batch of vaccine. Only the health department can get those. I was told I could pay for the shots but they are $30 each.
So I called the health department and found out when they are doing the shots. I asked if they would bill my insurance and they said no they couldn't. Their shots are $25. I also asked about the kids and the Medicaid. They did not have the Medicaid shots yet and did not know when they could get them in; but they told me I could pay for the kids shots too.
My doctor would do mine and my husbands shots and bill the insurance, but we both would still have our office visit co-pay of $25 each so it didn't save us anything. Plus, when you do this, you get to sit in the waiting area with those who already have the flu.
I took a long shot and called my pharmacy. They also would do the shots by appointment only. They quoted me $20 for the shots. They did not do Medicaid shots or bill my insurance. Since it seemed the best price for me to pay out of pocket, I got us all an appointment.
Before I got off the phone they asked the ages of my grandchildren. Once I told them they said they were too young for who they were qualified to administer the shots to. So I canceled their appointments and kept my husbands and mine.
Minutes later they called back to say they had misquoted the price and the shots were $28 each. I canceled our appointments then as well.
I will go to the health department and get my shot. If they don't get the Medicaid shots in I will pay for the kids.
Ironically our insurance company sent us a flier urging us to get vaccinated this year. They aren't doing much to make it convenient or cost effective for us to get them.
I hope the rest of you find it easier to negotiate this issue and I wish us all a mild, if not non-existent flu season this year.