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    Tuesday, August 05, 2003

    Public Health: The National Academy of Sciences wants health insurance plans to pay for all vaccines and the federal government to subsidize them:

    "The federal government should require all health insurance policies to pay for vaccines, should reimburse insurers for the costs and should subsidize vaccines for uninsured people, an expert panel from the the National Academy of Sciences said Monday."

    Of course, doing that would drive up the cost of health insurance. But, as things stand now, doctors are the ones subsidizing vaccines. You'd be surprised at how expensive some of those childhood vaccines can be. Ten doses of the chickenpox vaccine (the smallest amount I was able to find from suppliers) cost $600. The Comvax, which combines Hib and HepB is $360 for ten doses. And those are only three of the seven recommended immunizations for childhood. Yet, reimbursement from insurance companies is often so poor, it doesn't cover the cost. A friend of mine who opened her own practice recently doesn't offer immunizations because she can't afford them.

    Myself, I'm struggling with the decision. I believe I have an obligation to provide the immunizations to my patients. But frankly, I, too, am having trouble finding the funds to buy them. The cost of buying the smallest supply of childhood immunizations possible is more than all the rest of my medical supplies for the start-up of my practice. I'll probably compromise and only offer those that are required for school.

    Since most of the vaccines are required for public school attendance, and since they're given for the greater good of the general public, it actually makes sense to have the federal government subsidize them for everyone. Right now, they do that only for the poor, those without insurance, and those whose insurance plans don't cover immunizations. (Evidently the National Academy's panel never heard of the Vaccines for Children Program.) The only ones left to subsidize are the insurance companies. A better solution would be to leave the insurance companies out of it altogether and just have the same government-subsidized immunization program for all citizens.

    posted by Sydney on 8/05/2003 07:22:00 AM 0 comments


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