Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Does Medicare Cover Shingles Shots For Seniors

Does Medicare Cover Shingrix Or Zostavax

Medicare & You: Vaccines

Many Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans provide coverage for Shingrix and/or Zostavax.

  • Medicare Part D plans provide coverage exclusively for prescription drugs.
  • Medicare Advantage plans provide coverage for all Medicare Part A and Part B benefits, and most Medicare Advantage plans also cover prescription drugs. Some plans also offer dental, vision and hearing benefits, along with a range of other benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t cover.

Both Medicare Advantage plans and Part D plans are sold by private insurance companies.

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.

Will Medicare Offer Free Shingles Vaccines

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.

Recommended Reading: Is The Shingles Vaccine Expensive

The Best Vaccines For Seniors

Although there seems to be an endless amount of vaccines that are essential, not all of them are necessary for seniors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults aged 50 and over receive the following vaccines:

  • Shingles: The CDC estimates that one in three people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime, and the risk of shingles is higher later in life. The vaccine not only protects against the infection itself, but also against complications that may arise from shingles.
  • Flu: Flu season arrives each year, putting those over the age of 65 at greatest risk. The CDC has found that over 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people aged 65 and over each season.
  • TDaP: This is a combined vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis the vaccine can help keep these two infections and this disease at bay.
  • Pneumococcal: This vaccine protects against pneumococcal disease, which can result in infections in the lungs and/or bloodstream, leading to fatalities in adults over the age of 65.

Before you receive any of the above vaccines, be sure to talk to your doctor about potential side effects that might occur.

How Well Does Zostavax Work

Do Seniors Pay For Shingles Vaccine

Zostavax®, the shingles vaccine, reduced the risk of shingles by 51% and the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia by 67% based on a large study of more than 38,000 adults aged 60 years or older. Protection from shingles vaccine lasts about 5 years.

While the vaccine was most effective in people 60 through 69 years old, it also provides some protection for people 70 years old and older.

Adults vaccinated before age 60 years might not be protected later in life when the risk for shingles and its complications are greatest.

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Does Medicare Cover Shingrix

While Original Medicare Medicare Part A and Part B does not cover the cost of the shingles vaccine, or Shingrix , you can purchase private plans Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plans that do cover the cost.

It is important to note that even if your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan covers the shingles shot, you may have a copayment or other out-of-pocket costs to pay. Check with your plan for particular details.

Medicare Part D prescription drug plans cover all commercially available vaccinations, except for those already covered under Original Medicare. But these plans will pay only if the vaccinations are considered reasonable and necessary to prevent illness.

Vaccines Covered by Medicare Part D Plans

  • Vaccines related to treatment of an injury or exposure to a disease or condition

How To Find Out If Your Medicare Plan Covers Shingles Vaccines

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage, or a standalone Part D plan, then you should be covered for the shingles vaccine in many circumstances. But how you find out how much of the cost your plan covers?

First, find out how your insurer categorizes the shingles vaccine on their formulary. A lot of plans list Shingrix on Tier 3 drug as a preferred brand-name drug. Unfortunately, there isnt a generic version of the vaccine, so there isnt much you can do about that.

Second, look up your copay for that tier of drugs. It could range from $0 to over $100 depending on your plan, and depending on whether you get the vaccine in or out of network.

Also, if you havent yet reached the annual deductible for your insurance plan yet, youll have to pay the entire amount out of pocket .

So, while all Part D plans are required to cover the shingles vaccines, the amount that they cover varies widely between insurers.

If youre just signing up for a Medicare plan and expect to get the shingles vaccine within the next year, you can choose a plan that has a lower copay. Or, you can switch plans during the annual open enrollment period to find one that covers it at a better price.

If you currently have private insurance, then it may be a good idea to get the vaccine before enrolling in Medicare, since many private insurers cover it under preventative care.

Also Check: What Are The Contraindications For The Shingles Vaccine

S Of Medicare That Cover The Shingles Vaccine

The part of Medicare that covers the vaccine is your Medicare Part D plan or the Medicare prescription drug plan. Remember that a Part D plan is optional, so you might not be enrolled in one of these plans unless you decide to sign up for coverage. Part D typically provides coverage for prescription drugs, and the shingles vaccine is one drug that most plans cover. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, then your plan likely includes prescription drug coverage that will cover the vaccine. Since these Advantage plans are insurance plans administered by private insurance companies, you should contact your provider if you have any specific coverage questions or need help with the details of your plan. Many people also wonder if Medicare covers eye exams. These Medicare Advantage plans often include additional benefits like dental and vision coverage.

Original Medicare will not cover the shingles vaccine. Medicare Part A, or hospital insurance, pays for hospital stays and inpatient care. Vaccines and preventive services are never covered under Medicare Part A. Medicare Part B, which is more traditional medical insurance, pays for doctors office visits, outpatient care, and many preventive services. Part B will cover many immunizations, like the flu vaccine, pneumonia vaccine, and hepatitis B vaccine. Unfortunately, Part B does not cover the shingles vaccine. If you are not enrolled in a Part D plan, then this vaccine will be an out-of-pocket cost for you.

Why Doesn’t Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine As Free For All Seniors

Shingles vaccine is recommended for healthy older adults

Many people think that a vaccine that’s recommended by the CDC for those over age 50 would be fully covered by Original Medicare. However, there are a few reasons why you may end up paying hundreds of dollars for the two-dose regimen.

  • Medicare coverage levels: Some Medicare drug plans have better cost-sharing benefits than others, and how much you pay for the shingles vaccine depends on the plan you choose.
  • Pharmaceutical classification: Medicare classifies the Shingrix vaccine as a part of its pharmaceutical coverage, meaning it would fall under Medicare Part D coverage rather than Part A or Part B. In contrast, most private health insurance, either through an employer or through the marketplace, classifies the shingles vaccine as a part of its free preventative coverage.
  • Type of pharmaceutical: Shingrix is a Tier 3 drug made by GlaxoSmithKline, and there isn’t a generic alternative. This could mean that your out-of-pocket costs are higher than for other medications.

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Why Is The Shingles Vaccine Recommended

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get two doses of Shingrix two to six months apart to prevent shingles and complications from the disease. The vaccine is typically administered to adults who are 50 years and older. There is no maximum age for getting Shingrix.

It is also given to those who have received a live zoster vaccine in the past.

The studies report that two doses of Shingrix will be more than 90 percent effective at preventing shingles and its complication called postherpetic neuralgia.

The vaccine protects you at least 85 percent of the time for the first four years after vaccination.

You should get Shingrix even if you have a history as follows:

  • Already had shingles

Who Should Not Get The Shingles Vaccine

The vaccine may not be appropriate for people who have a weakened immune system due to certain conditions. These people include those with an organ transplant and those who are undergoing chemotherapy to treat cancer.

Doctors also recommend that people with an allergy to any component of the vaccine do not have the shingles vaccination.

Anyone with severe allergies must tell a doctor about them when discussing their shingles risk. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding or currently have shingles symptoms should not get the shot.

Also Check: How Do You Stop The Itching From Shingles

Meningococcal Vaccine Also Available

A meningococcal vaccine is not recommended for all adults. This vaccine may be recommended for you if you have certain risk factors due to your age, health, job, or lifestyle. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to see if you need this vaccine.

This vaccine is available through local pharmacies as well as in a doctors office.

Which Medicare Providers Cover The Shingles Vaccine

Cost of shingles vaccine at costco

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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Congress Finally Eliminates Part D Vaccine Cost Sharing: Medicare Coverage Is Still Broken

The Inflation Reduction Act leaves intact a peculiar split in Medicare vaccine coverage that discourages physicians from offering certain vaccines, former Moderna Vice President Richard Hughes argues.

Editors note: Richard Hughes is a member of the firm Epstein Becker Green in the Health Care & Life Sciences practice and a former vice president for Moderna.

In its passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, Congress has taken the long overdue step of eliminating out of pocket, or OOP, costs for vaccines under Medicare Part D. The OOP prohibition aligns with policies under Medicare Part B and the Affordable Care Act and removes a pharmacy counter barrier that will undoubtedly lead more seniors to be vaccinated against shingles. However, it leaves intact a peculiar split in Medicare vaccine coverage that discourages physicians from offering certain vaccines.

How Much You Might Still Have To Pay

According to Consumer Reports, the shingles vaccine costs around $217 at full price, but the average cost for people with Medicare Part D is $50 for each shot. Some plans have a higher copay, while some plans charge less or even $0.

Before you go to the pharmacy to get vaccinated, call them to find out the current price of the vaccine, and call your insurer to confirm that they will cover it. To get the lowest copay, make sure the pharmacy is in your insurers network.

You can also ask your doctor about getting vaccinated at the doctors office, but make sure to ask them how much they charge for the vaccination and if they can bill your insurer.

Some doctors may charge more for the vaccine than your insurer will cover, and some may expect you to pay out of pocket and be reimbursed later. If your doctor cant bill your insurer, then ask them to write you a prescription for an in-network pharmacy instead.

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Who Should Get Zostavax

People 60 years of age or older should get shingles vaccine . They should get the vaccine whether or not they recall having had chickenpox, which is caused by the same virus as shingles. Studies show that more than 99% of Americans aged 40 and older have had chickenpox, even if they dont remember getting the disease. There is no maximum age for getting shingles vaccine.

Two vaccines are licensed and recommended to prevent shingles in the U.S.. Zoster vaccine live has been in use since 2006. Recombinant zoster vaccine , has been in use since 2017 and is recommended by ACIP as the preferred shingles vaccine.

Even if you have had shingles, you can still receive shingles vaccine to help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific length of time you must wait after having shingles before receiving shingles vaccine, but generally you should make sure the shingles rash has disappeared before getting vaccinated. The decision on when to get vaccinated should be made with your healthcare provider.

Talk with your healthcare provider if you have questions about shingles vaccine. Shingles vaccine is available in doctors offices and pharmacies. To find doctors offices or pharmacies near you that offer the vaccine, visit Zostavax or HealthMap Vaccine Finder.

You Can Get A Shingles Vaccine Two Ways:

Doctor recommends shingles shot for those eligible

At the pharmacy. Youll still need a doctors prescription, but once thats been transmitted, you can get the shot at a retail pharmacy.

Most major chains and some independent pharmacies can administer the vaccine. Just make sure to use a store in your drug plans network so that it can bill your plan directly and youll owe just the copayment.

At the doctors office. If youre vaccinated in a doctors office, check whether it can bill your drug plan directly or works with a pharmacy that can do so. If so, it will work as mentioned above, with you owing a copayment. If not, you may need to pay the full cost up front and then file a claim for reimbursement from your plan.

Remember that the doctors fee for administering the vaccine may exceed your plans allowable charge, in which you case youre on the hook for the difference. It pays to check beforehand.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Jan. 1, 2014. It has been updated with the latest information regarding Medicare coverage in 2020.

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Vaccines Covered By Medicare Part B

Medicare Part B covers three important vaccines as part of its preventive care benefits.

Covered vaccines include the following:

  • Flu vaccine: Annual vaccine given in one shot before or during flu season, usually November through April
  • Pneumonia vaccine: One-time vaccine given in two shots at least one year apart
  • Hepatitis B vaccine: One-time vaccine given in two to four shots over one to six months for people who are medium to high risk, including people with diabetes

Part B also covers vaccines you may need if youre exposed to a harmful virus or bacteria by accident. You might need a tetanus shot, for example, if you step on a rusty nail. Or you may need rabies shots if youre bitten by a stray dog.

Does Medicare 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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