Medicare And The Shingles Vaccine: Are You Covered
The shingles vaccine is covered through Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage as part of your prescription drug benefits. In 2022, your actual costs for the vaccine depend on the specifics of your plan.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, all vaccines will be free under Medicare Advantage or Part D including shingles. No matter your plan, you’ll pay no deductible, copay or other costs for a shingles vaccine.
In 2022, you could pay less than $50 per shingles shot with a Medicare Part D plan from Aetna or Wellcare. If you don’t have prescription drug coverage, the full price for two doses of the Shingrix vaccine is $324, and several cost-saving options can help you get Shingrix for less.
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What Are The Benefits Of The Shingles Vaccine
The shingles vaccines are the best way to protect you from getting shingles. The vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of getting shingles by 50% for Zostavax® II, and to more than 90% for Shingrix®.
For those who still get shingles after being immunized, the vaccines can reduce pain, including the type of pain that lasts after shingles.
Does Medicare Cover Shingles Vaccines
Most health insurance companies cover shingles vaccines, and so does Medicare. However, Original Medicare coverage wont cover the vaccines. You must be enrolled in a Medicare Part D drug plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes drug coverage in order to have prescription drug coverage that covers shingles vaccines. Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B , components of Original Medicare, wont cover shingles vaccines.
Other Medicare supplement plans, like Medigaps, dont cover shingles vaccines either.
You can enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan by itself, or enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part A, B, and D coverage. Either of these options will usually cover the Shingrix vaccine.
Every Medicare Part D plan is different and copays or coinsurance may vary from plan to plan. Deductibles also may apply.
Different Medicare Part D plans classify medications and vaccinations into different tiers. What tier your plan puts shingles vaccinations into will determine your copay. The best way to determine the insurance plan thats best for you is to compare formularies to find the one that covers as many of your medications and vaccinations as possible or contact Medicare customer support.
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Is There A Downside To The Shingles Vaccine
Though the vaccine is deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration , there are certain conditions in which the vaccine may not be safe for you.
- The shingles vaccine has only been tested in adults over age 50 years and immunocompromised adults above 18 years thus, there is no recommendation for the vaccine for younger ages by the FDA.
- You should not get the vaccine if you have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous Shingrix dose.
- You have tested negative for immunity to varicella-zoster virus .
- You have an active shingles infection.
Does Medicare Cover Shingrix And The Shingles Vaccine
By Kristen Roloff, quality care coordinator at Network Health Originally published on 10/27/2020 at 8:00 a.m.
As most of us age, we start to become familiar with the names of common medicines and immunizations to help keep us living our best and healthiest lives. One of these immunizations has been getting a lot of attention for its ability to prevent a serious health issue. Were talking about shingles and the vaccine to prevent it, called Shingrix.
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Does Medicare Advantage Cover The Shingles Vaccine
Medicare Advantage plans are private health insurance plans that are approved by Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans must cover the same services as Medicare Part A and Part B, but they can also offer additional benefits. Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover the shingles shot, but it is not required. It is important to talk to your insurance broker or insurer to find out whether your Medicare Advantage plan will cover the vaccine.
Does Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine
All Medicare prescription drug plans offer some level of coverage for the shingles vaccine. You will find this coverage under your Medicare Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage plan.
The amount you pay will vary based on your policy details and your deductible amount. For some enrollees, the shingles vaccine could be free, but others may pay full price if a deductible must be met before the cost-sharing benefits begin.
The shingles vaccine is not covered by Original Medicare . However, Medicare Part B may cover a doctor’s visit to get a prescription for the shingles vaccine.
Most Medigap plans, also called Medicare supplement plans, don’t cover the shingles vaccine because they don’t include prescription drug coverage.
Typical costs based on available plans in Charlotte, N.C. , Boston , and Los Angeles .
Find Cheap Medicare Plans in Your Area
Remember that coverage for the shingles vaccine is usually just one aspect of your prescription drug needs. And the best Medicare Part D plan for you is determined by its total performance, including how well its coverage matches your prescription needs.
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Whats The Difference Between Vaccine And Immunization
Theres a lot of medical terminology out there. And many terms may mean the same thing, which is the case here. A vaccine is something that may fire up your immune system so it can produce immunity to a specific illness. Its usually given through an injection . A vaccination or immunization is simply the act of giving a vaccine. And once you have immunity to a specific illness, you may be protected from getting it even if exposed.2
Why Does Medicare Not Cover The Shingles Shot
There are a few reasons why Medicare Part A and Part B do not cover the shingles vaccine. One reason is that the vaccine is not considered to be medically necessary. Medicare only covers preventive care services that are considered medically necessary. Instead, your shingles shot will be covered if you have Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs.
Another reason Medicare does not cover the vaccine is that it is not considered to be cost-effective. Medicare only covers preventive care services that are considered to be cost-effective. The shingles vaccine is not currently considered to be cost-effective by Medicare standards in some cases.
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When Should I See A Doctor Because Of The Side Effects I Experience From Shingrix
Shingrix causes a strong response in your immune system, so it may produce short-term side effects. These side effects can be uncomfortable, but they are expected and usually go away on their own in 2 or 3 days. You may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Contact your healthcare provider if the symptoms are not improving or if they are getting worse.
In clinical trials, Shingrix was not associated with serious adverse events. In fact, serious side effects from vaccines are extremely rare. For example, for every 1 million doses of a vaccine given, only one or two people might have a severe allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction happen within minutes or hours after vaccination and include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness. If you experience these or any other life-threatening symptoms, see a doctor right away.
What Are The Risks And Side Effects Of The Shingles Vaccine
Side effects include:
- Redness, swelling, or soreness at the spot where the needle went in.
- A high fever or serious allergic reaction .
Getting the vaccine has some risks. For example:
- You might get shingles anyway. But it probably won’t be as painful or last as long.
- You may need another vaccine later in life.
You shouldn’t get the vaccine if:
- You are ill with more than a mild cold or you have had an allergic reaction to the first dose.
- You have a test that says you have never had chickenpox.
- You have shingles.
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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What Everyone Should Know About The Shingles Vaccine
CDC recommends that adults 50 years and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine called Shingrix to prevent shingles and the complications from the disease. Adults 19 years and older who have weakened immune systems because of disease or therapy should also get two doses of Shingrix, as they have a higher risk of getting shingles and related complications.
Your doctor or pharmacist can give you Shingrix as a shot in your upper arm.
Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles and PHN. In adults 50 years and older who have healthy immune systems, Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles and PHN. Immunity stays strong for at least the first 7 years after vaccination. In adults with weakened immune systems, studies show that Shingrix is 68%-91% effective in preventing shingles, depending on the condition that affects the immune system.
How To Get A Shingrix Discount Without Medicare
There are a few different ways to receive a discount on the Shingrix vaccine. SingleCares prescription discount card provides instant savings on many prescription drugs, including Shingrix. Medicare recipients cannot use SingleCare and Medicare coverage together, but they can choose to use whichever offers a better deal for them. For those who dont have a Medicare plan that covers Shingrix, SingleCare can provide a discount.
GSK, the manufacturer of Shingrix, offers apatient assistance program for those who dont have insurance coverage. However, there are income guidelines and other eligibility requirements in order to qualify. Those who are enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan may still be eligible for the program if their income falls below a certain threshold and theyve spent at least $600 on prescription medications through their plan during the current calendar year.
Lastly, you may qualify for financial assistance through a Medicare program called Extra Help. Extra Help can help Part D consumers lower their Medicare-related costs.
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What Matters Most To You
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to get a shingles vaccine
Reasons not to get a vaccine
I want to lower my chances of getting shingles.
I would rather take my chances without getting a vaccine.
I’m afraid of the pain that shingles can cause.
I’m not afraid of shingles pain.
Getting shots doesn’t bother me.
I don’t like getting shots.
Other Types Of Plans Do Better
Other forms of insurance do a far better job covering immunizations.
Under provisions of the Affordable Care Act, private planssuch as insurance through your employer or purchased on a state marketplaceare still required to cover recommended vaccinations as preventive medical care, not drugs.
That means that as long as you go to a provider in your plans network, your insurance will pay for preventive care without a co-pay, even if you havent met your deductible.
Its really a shame that older Americans, who are most at risk of contracting shingles and most vulnerable to the potentially serious effects of the disease, often have to pay more than others for the vaccine, says Consumer Reports medical director, Orly Avitzur, M.D.
If youre currently covered by a private health plan but anticipate going on Medicare in the next five years or so, one cost-saving strategy is to talk to your doctor about updating all your vaccinations now while your insurance provides good coverage, Avitzur says. The shingles shot is recommended for nearly all adults aged 60 and older.
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Private Insurance Vaccine Coverage
All Health Insurance Marketplaceexternal icon plans and most other private insurance plans must cover the following list of vaccines without charging a copayment or coinsurance when provided by an in-network provider. This is true even for patients who have not met a yearly deductible. Doses, recommended ages, and recommended populations for these vaccines vary:
A new recommendation for serogroup B meningococcal vaccination of those age 16 through 23 years was published in the MMWR dated October 23, 2015. Health plans are required to cover new vaccine recommendations without cost-sharing in the next plan year that occurs one year after this date. Patients should check with their insurance provider for details on whether there is any cost to them for this vaccine.
- Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis
Check with your patients insurance provider for details of coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans that cover children now allow parents to add or keep adult children on their health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old.
Medicare Coverage And Payment
Medicare covers initial pneumococcal vaccine and different, second pneumococcal vaccine one year after the first is administered, effective February 2, 2015. See Modifications to Medicare Part B Coverage of Pneumococcal Vaccinationspdf iconexternal icon.
Medicare Part B will pay for the following vaccines:
- Influenza vaccine
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Does Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine Will I Have To Pay For The Shot
The CDC recommends people 50 years and older get the shingles vaccine. The shot is widely available and the cost may be covered if you have Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D. Depending on your plan, you may have to cover a deductible, co-pay, or pay for the shot out of pocket and get reimbursement.
Shingles can cause serious complications, like painful long-term nerve damage. To stay safe from such complications, you may want to consider the new shingles vaccine . An older vaccine once widely administered in the U.S. was less effective and is no longer on the market.
What Is Shingles And How Is It Related To Chickenpox
Shingles is a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus in the body. This virus is responsible for chickenpox. As you age, the risk of developing this painful rash-like condition increases, leading many people to seek preventive immunization from its potentially severe effects.
As far as symptoms go, shingles causes a painful rash that may appear as a strip of blisters on the trunk of the body. The blisters continue to form over three to five days, eventually drying and forming a scab-like layer.
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How Much Do Vaccines And Shots Cost With Insurance
Without health insurance, shots and vaccines are paid out-of-pocket. This means something like the shingles vaccine could cost you around $200 if you are uninsured.
With insurance, many preventive shots are covered, although you are still responsible for any copay or deductible your health plan has. The cost of vaccines and shots depends on two factors: the type of shot or vaccine, and your insurance coverage.
For Blue Cross Blue Shield plans offered by CareFirst, vaccinations are completely free. You will pay no out-of-pocket copayment or coinsurance, and you will not have to pay toward your deductible.
Shingrix: Doses And Vaccine Information
Shingrix is an injection, with two doses spaced two to six months apart. Shingrix is the CDC recommended vaccine for shingles prevention. This vaccine contains inactivated viruses, which makes it more tolerable for people with compromised immune systems. Receiving two doses of Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles.
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How Long Does Shingrix Last
The Shingrix vaccine can remain effective for at least four years in most people and even longer in others. You must get the entire series to be protected against shingles, which includes two separate shots. Even if you have had the infection, getting vaccinated can still offer benefits because it may help reduce the risk of developing PHN.
Shingrix may not protect everyone, but it provides broader protection for older adults whose immune systems are declining with age or disease.
What Are The Side Effects Of Shingrix
The most common side effects include pain and inflammation at the injection site, headache, muscle pain, fatigue, stomach discomfort, fever, and shivering, according to GSK.
Allergic reactions are less common but still possible. Watch for signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives, swelling of the face or throat, trouble breathing, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. This is considered an emergency, so call 911.
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Review Our Adult Vaccines Checklist
You can use this adult vaccines checklist to help prepare for your next doctor visit. Ask your provider which vaccines may be right for you.
- Influenza vaccine. Annual immunizations are the best way to prevent the flu.
- Tdap or Td vaccine. Tdap protects against tetanus , diphtheria and pertussis . Td protects against tetanus and diphtheria.
- MMR vaccine. Protects against measles, mumps and rubella .
- Pneumococcal vaccines. Protect against illnesses such as pneumonia.
- Hepatitis A and B vaccines. Protect against serious liver diseases.
- Hib vaccine. Protects against a dangerous bacterial disease called Haemophilus influenzae type b .
- HPV vaccines. Protect against human papillomavirus. Certain types of this virus cause cervical and other cancers. The vaccines are recommended for preteens. But young adults may still need them if they didnt get vaccinated as kids.
- Meningococcal vaccine. Protects against meningitis and blood infections. Its particularly important for college students who will be living in residence halls and people with certain health conditions.
- Varicella vaccine. Protects against chickenpox. You may need it if you havent had chickenpox before or werent vaccinated as a child.
- Shingles vaccine. Protects against a painful skin rash. Its generally recommended for adults 60 and older.
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