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Does Medicare Cover New Shingles Vaccine

New Shingles Vaccine Is Now Available

Medicare & You: Vaccines

New Shingles Vaccine is now available

Shingles vaccination protects against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia , the most common complication from shingles. CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine called Shingrix®, separated by 2 to 6 months, to prevent shingles and the complications from the disease.

Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles and PHN. Two doses of Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles and PHN. Protection stays above 85% for at least the first four years after you get vaccinated. Shingrix is the preferred vaccine, over Zostavax®, a shingles vaccine in use since 2006.

You should get Shingrix even if in the past you

  • are not sure if you had chickenpox

There is no maximum age for getting Shingrix.

If you had shingles in the past, you can get Shingrix to help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific length of time that you need to wait after having shingles before you can receive Shingrix, but generally you should make sure the shingles rash has gone away before getting vaccinated.

If you had Zostavax in the recent past, you should wait at least eight weeks before getting Shingrix. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best time to get Shingrix.

Shingrix is available in doctors offices and pharmacies. If you have questions about Shingrix, talk with your healthcare provider.

How can I Pay For Shingrix?

Medicare

Why Do You Need The Shingles Vaccine

In a word: pain. Shingles commonly appears as a rash, usually across one side of your chest, abdomen or face. What starts as itching or tingling becomes an extremely painful band of blisters. These usually scab over in seven to 10 days and clear up in two to four weeks.4

Shingles is most common among people over the age of 50, so the Centers for Disease Controls recommends the vaccine for anyone over that age.

People with a weak immune system are at even higher risk. Your immunity may be weakened if you:5

  • Are under extreme stress.

Shingles must be active, meaning in the blister phase, to be contagious. You cannot transmit the virus before the blisters appear, nor once they crust over.6 Even if the virus is active, the risk of spreading VZV is low if you keep the shingles rash covered.7

How Does Medicare Part D Cover The Shingles Vaccine

Medicare Part D can cover vaccines and prescription drugs. Your vaccine and its cost are on a list in your plans drug formulary, alongside other prescription drug costs. Your vaccine cost counts toward your deductible like other Part D services. You may have to pay the full price for your shingles vaccine if you have not met your annual deductible.

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Is Shingrix Covered By My Medicare Health Plan

Yes and no. Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B do not cover the shingles vaccine.

Coverage, however, may be available through your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan.

Medicare Part D is the portion of Medicare covering prescription drugs and typically also covers commercially available vaccines, at varying amounts.

If you havent met your plans deductible for the year, you may have to pay full price.

Medicare Drug Plans And The Shingles Vaccine

What You Should Know About the Shingrix Vaccine for Shingles Prevention

Unlike Medicare parts A and B, which are government insurance plans that cover hospital insurance and outpatient medical insurance, respectively, Medicare drug plans are private insurance policies developed by providers that have contracts with the federal government. You might purchase such a policy if you have Original Medicare or a Medigap plan and need prescription drug coverage.

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Medicare Coverage For Shingles

Home / FAQs / Medicare Coverage / Medicare Coverage for Shingles

All Medicare prescription plans cover shingles vaccines. If you believe you may have shingles, Part B pays for a visit to the doctor.

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If your doctor prescribes antiviral or pain medications, Medicare prescription drug plans will usually cover them.

In the context below well discuss coverage and costs for everything relating to shingles with Medicare.

What Are My Options For The Shingles Shot And How Does It Work

As of November, 2020, there is only one shingles vaccine available in the United States. This goes by the trade name Shingrix.

Shingrix was approved by the FDA in . It is more than 90 percent effective at preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia after two doses of the vaccine.

An earlier vaccine, Zostavax, is no longer in use in the United States as of November 18, 2020. Zostavax first got FDA approval in 2006. It was about 51 percent effective at preventing shingles and 67 percent effective at preventing PHN.

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Which Medicare Providers Cover The Shingles Vaccine

All Medicare Plan D plans offer some level of coverage for the shingles vaccine. However, coverage varies by company, and your actual cost will depend on your plan details and if youve already met your deductible.

Youll get the best deal on shingles vaccine coverage with a Medicare plan from Aetna or Wellcare.

In both cases, a shingles vaccine dose costs less than $50, and the Part D plans are affordable, averaging $36 to $37 per month.

Company

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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What Are My Options For The Shingles Shot

New vaccine now available to treat shingles

The two options for the shingles shot are Zostavax and Shingrix. Zostavax, according to the Mayo Clinic, protects against shingles for about five years. Itâs a live vaccine given as a single shot in the upper arm. The Zostavax shingles shot is recommended to adults age 60 and over which reduces the risk of developing shingles by 51%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

Studies suggest that Shingrix offers protection against shingles for more than five years. Itâs a nonliving vaccine given in two doses. The Shringrix shingles shot is recommended for adults age 50 and older.

The Shingrix shingles vaccine is more effective than Zostavax. Shingrix is more than 97% effective in preventing shingles in adults 50 to 69 years old after two doses. The Shingrix shingles vaccine is 91% effective in preventing shingles in adults age 70 and older, according to the CDC.

Also Check: How To Cut Ridge Cap Shingles

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.

How Much Does The Shingles Vaccine Cost

The amount you pay for the shingles vaccine will depend on how much your Medicare plan covers. Remember that if you only have original Medicare and no prescription drug coverage through Medicare, you may pay full price for the vaccine.

Medicare drug plans group their medications by tier. Where a drug falls on the tier can determine how expensive it is. Most Medicare drug plans cover at least 50 percent of a drugs retail price.

PRice ranges for the shingles vaccine

Shingrix :

  • Deductible copay: free to $164 for each shot
  • After deductible is met: free to $164 for each shot
  • Donut hole/coverage gap range: free to $74 for each shot
  • After the donut hole: $7 to $8

To find out exactly how much you will pay, review your plans formulary or contact your plan directly.

Read Also: What To Avoid When You Have Shingles

Pain And Complications Of Shingles In Elderly People

Older adults who develop shingles are often surprised at how painful it is. Many say that it is far more painful than the original chickenpox virus that affected them in childhood. Often the skin in the area of the rash continues to hurt even after the rash has healed.

The individual may feel stabbing or throbbing or even weakness. Doctors call this post-herpetic neuralgia, and it can sometimes last for months or even years.

There are also risks for older adults who develop shingles. The blistered area of skin can become infected, requiring antibiotics in addition to antivirals. Such infections can lead to scarring. The rash is also uncomfortable and makes it challenging to rest. When healing takes longer than usual, some individuals can feel despair or even depression. In rare cases, it can lead to encephalitis.

The virus can also be transmitted to other parts of your body, such as your eyes or lips. The herpes virus can cause outbreaks that may affect hearing and vision.

Another thing to be concerned about is contagion. While shingles itself is not contagious, the virus that causes it is. If your spouse has never had chickenpox and has not been vaccinated, he or she could develop chickenpox as an adult. Its important to keep your skin clean and dry and prevent it from rubbing against any other person who could get infected.

How Long Does Shingrix Last

Do Seniors Pay For Shingles Vaccine

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.

Read Also: What Can I Put On Shingles Rash

Vaccines Covered By Medicare Part D

Medicare Part D covers all commercially available vaccines needed to prevent illness. You can get Part D coverage through a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage.

Vaccines covered by Part D include the following:

  • Shingles vaccine: One-time vaccine given in two shots over two to six months
  • Tdap vaccine : One shot if youve never been vaccinated, and a booster every ten years
  • Other vaccines covered: Vaccines that are “reasonable and necessary” to prevent illness and are not covered by Part B

Part D may also cover vaccines you may need if you are traveling internationally. Talk with your doctor about your travel plans and ask what vaccines are recommended.

Can I Get Shingles If Ive Had Chickenpox Already

Yes. After you have chickenpox, the virus stays in your body. It might go many decades before resurfacing or never come back at all. As you get older, the chance of the virus reappearing as shingles becomes more significant and can also lead to other negative health effects.

It is rare but possible to get shingles more than once.

Recommended Reading: How Do You Spread Shingles

How Much Will You Pay For Shingles Vaccines

You can find the shingles vaccine on your Part D plan formulary or listing of covered medications. Check to see into which tier the vaccine falls the tier will define how much your insurer will pay and how much you will have to pay.14

If your doctors office will provide the vaccination, check to be sure they can bill your plan directly. That way, youll have only the copay. Otherwise, you may have to make the full payment upfront and file with your plan for reimbursement. Also, check to be sure that the doctors fee for administering the shot is covered as part of your plans allowable charge.13

Youll probably pay the least amount out-of-pocket by being vaccinated at a pharmacy thats within your drug plans network. But if you havent met your deductible for the year on your drug plan, you may pay full price for the vaccine.

If you havent had your shingles vaccine yet and youre selecting a Medicare Advantage plan during the Open Enrollment Period, be sure its one of the medications on whatever plan you choose.

Will Medicare Offer Free Shingles Vaccines

FDA Approves New Shingles Vaccine

Concerned that the complicated and sometimes expensive Medicare vaccine coverage system is resulting in low vaccination rates among Medicare beneficiaries, bipartisan members of Congress have introduced legislation that would require all recommended vaccines to be covered under Part B at no cost to beneficiaries. This would include vaccines for both shingles and the combination vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis .

According to bill sponsor Senator Shelley Moore Capito , before the pandemic, the U.S. spent more than $15 billion every year treating diseases that could have been prevented by vaccines.

The Protecting Seniors Through Immunization Act would also require beneficiaries be given information about vaccines and require a study of vaccination rates among Medicare patients.

In addition, President Bidens proposed 2023 budget recommends consolidating vaccine coverage under Medicare Part B, making more preventive vaccines available at no cost to Medicare beneficiaries. The budget also establishes a new Vaccines for Adults program to give uninsured adults free access to all recommended vaccines

Researchers at Avalere Health, a consultancy, found that out-of-pocket costs for vaccines are common among Medicare beneficiaries. As of 2020, Part D plans require a copayment for recommended vaccines 87% of the time, with an average copayment of $47 and a maximum as high as $100.

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How Does Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine

Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, does not cover the shingles vaccination but Medicare Part D does. To get this covered, you must enroll in either a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage . You may have a copayment for the shingles vaccine.

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.

Also Check: How To Avoid Shingles Outbreak

Where And How To Get Vaccinated For Shingles

Medicare requires all Part D plans to cover the shingles vaccine. However, since Part D plans have networks, youll want to be sure you get the vaccine at a pharmacy in the plans network.

Do not get the shingles vaccine at your doctors office. Doctors offices dont have the ability to bill Part D plans. Therefore, getting the vaccine at your doctors office could result in you paying the entire bill and having to submit a reimbursement request to your plan.

Does Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine

Do Medicare Part D plans cover the shingles vaccine?

En español | Unlike some common vaccines, like those for the flu, hepatitis B and pneumonia, shingles shots are not covered under Medicare Part B, the component of original Medicare that includes doctor visits and outpatient services. Part A, which deals with hospital costs, doesnt cover shingles shots either.

Medicare coverage for Shingrix and Zostavax, the two commercially available shingles vaccines, is provided only if you are enrolled in a stand-alone Part D drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part D drug coverage.

Medicare requires Part D plans to cover the shingles vaccine, so if youre enrolled in Part D, you shouldnt have difficulty obtaining the shot. Most require a copayment, which can vary widely from plan to plan.

And if you havent yet met your plans deductible for the year, youll likely pay the full price. For Shingrix, the newer vaccine, that averages around $190, according to GoodRx, a website and app that tracks prescription prices.

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How To Get Free Shingles Vaccines

If youre covered by a private health plan other than Medicare, such as through your employer or the healthcare exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, virtually all recommended vaccines are required by law to be provided at no cost to you. In that case, this means you can get a free shingles vaccine, as well as any other vaccine recommended by the CDC.

If you want to avoid any out-of-pocket cost for a shingles vaccine, you should consider getting the vaccine before switching from your private insurance to Medicare.

If youre already on Medicare and are a beneficiary of a Part D plan or an Advantage Plan that includes prescription drug coverage, you will pay less for a vaccine under the plan after you meet the plans deductible in a given year.

In addition, some Medicare Part D beneficiaries qualify for extra help provisions, which aid in paying for their monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and co-payments related to Medicare prescription drug coverage.

Where Can I Get Vaccines I Need

You can get most vaccines at a pharmacy, doctors office, clinic or community health center. Talk with your doctor about what vaccines you may need. Your doctor or Part D plan provider can also help you understand whether your cost will be affected by where you go to get the vaccines that your doctor recommends.

Read Also: Is Shingles Shot Covered Under Medicare

Medicare Part B Coverage For Shingles Treatment

Shingles appear as a painful rash on one side of your body. You may feel pain, itching, or tingling before the rash develops, and you may also have a fever, headache, or upset stomach. The rash turns into blisters that usually scab up within a week to 10 days.

If you believe you have shingles, its best to see a doctor right away. Prescription antiviral medications can shorten the illness and make it less severe, but they work best if you start taking them as soon as possible after the rash appears. If your pain is severe, your doctor may also prescribe pain medication or give you a corticosteroid injection.

Part B covers a visit to a doctor or urgent care center. It also covers any injections you receive at the doctors office. If you have a Medicare Supplement plan, you may not have to pay anything out of pocket to see a doctor for shingles.

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, Part B will still cover doctor visits and injections. But youll have different costs than if you had Medicare.

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