This Won’t Hurt a Bit — No Co-Pay for Immunizations!

August 18, 2011

Did you know it will “hurt” less this year when you take your child in for their school immunizations? Don’t get me wrong — you will still have to comfort your lil’ tyke after the arsenal of shots. But the usual pain of the office co-pay and deductible has been completely eliminated thanks to the health care laws passed by Congress!

Last month when I took my daughter to her pediatrician for her school immunizations, I skipped my morning coffee and made a special trip to the bank to take out cash for the expected co-pay. After we signed in, I ask the receptionist why I didn’t have to pay my regular co-pay. She said, “You just don’t need to pay it anymore.” Of course, it was only later, after I had my coffee, that it hit me — it was health care reform! I’d heard about that evil, big government, pull the plug on grannie, socialized medicine plan, but somewhere lost in all the noise I had completely forgotten that our country finally stood up for children’s health when passing this law by requiring insurance companies to pay the full cost of most preventative care.

Before the new law, a national immunization survey found that 79 percent of privately insured children paid for their immunizations through patient cost sharing (such as co-pays and deductibles). Several advocates made the case that the cost of immunizations was a barrier for many Americans. In an earlier study, 66 percent of privately insured patients at public clinics seeking immunizations said that they chose a public clinic rather than using their plan because of cost. Costs for immunization ranged by plan, but our cost was a $35 “office visit” co-pay when our child had school immunizations at 3 years old.

But make sure your kids’ immunizations are up to date this year. The Supreme Court will likely consider the constitutionality of the new health care law next year. Last Friday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals found the law unconstitutional because it requires an “individual mandate” that Americans buy health insurance. The 6th Circuit already upheld the new law, and the 4th Circuit is due to issue a decision as well. AAUW’s 2011–13 public policy action priorities include supporting “increased access to quality, affordable health care.” Accordingly, we’ll be watching this case develop as it heads to the Supreme Court.

Maybe there would be less litigation and more support for the health care law if doctors were required to post a sign so that all parents knew the truth: “Your child’s required school immunizations and most preventative services are provided free of co-pay or deductibles because of health care reform. You’re welcome.”

Erin Prangley By:   |   August 18, 2011

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