PORTLAND, Ore. — The state of Oregon will require health insurance companies to cover costs that arise from coronavirus vaccinations following an order by Public Health Director Rachael Banks.
The January 27 determination cites Oregon law, mandating that health plans operating in Oregon not charge patients for "most costs" related to providing the vaccine. This includes the cost of all vaccine doses and necessary supplies, and the labor of medical staff that administer the shot.
Broadly speaking, vaccine doses are paid for via U.S. taxpayer dollars — with the federal government purchasing shipments from the companies that produce the vaccine and distributing them to states. However, local vaccine providers are allowed to charge an administration fee for giving the shots.
The Oregon ruling requires that insurance companies cover these kinds of fees. The Oregon Health Plan and Medicare programs already do not charge patients for the cost of vaccinations.
“We are in the midst of a devastating pandemic that has affected more than 142,000 people in Oregon and claimed almost 2,000 lives,” Banks said. “There should be no financial barrier to getting the vaccine, whether it’s a copay or administrative fee. Even small costs can be a big burden for people with limited resources, particularly considering the economic challenges people have faced for the last year.”
Banks said that she encourages vaccine providers to bill patients' insurance for any administrative costs, and avoid asking patients to cover them.
The order delivered by Banks specifically references the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, though it acknowledges that "More COVID-19 vaccines may become available following clinical trials and approval by the FDA.”