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Does Medicare Part B Pay For Shingles Shot

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

Medicare & You: Vaccines

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.

Whats Shingrix Zostavax And Shingles

FDA approved in 2017, Shingrix is the leading preventive tool against shingles . Shingles is caused by a once dormant chickenpox virus rearing its ugly head to give you a painful rash that can last for up to four weeks. For some, long-term pain continues even after the rash is gone, a condition known as postherpetic neuralgia.

Since 99% of people in the US have chicken pox by age 40, and since the risk of shingles increases with age, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that every healthy adult over 50 get Shingrix.1 Shingrix is over 90% effective at preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia, making it the preferred shingles shot.2 But for those who may be allergic to Shingrix, another shingles vaccine, Zostavax, can be used.

Zostavax may also be covered by Medicare prescription drug insurance , but again, you should check to be sure.

What Is Shingles And How Do You Catch It

Shingles is a painful skin rash that forms on one side of the body. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus. Shingles can affect people who have had chickenpox, even if they had the illness long ago.

Once youve had chickenpox, the virus becomes inactive in the body and can reactivate years later. The virus can remain inactive in your nerve roots for many years, and then wake up and travel down the path of a sensory nerve to the skincausing shingles. You may develop shingles more than once in your lifetime.

RELATED: Shingles treatments and medications

Recommended Reading: How Soon After Having Shingles Can You Get The Vaccine

What Is A Medicare Copay

A copay is an out-of-pocket cost you can expect to pay for certain services. Typically, copays will apply to visits with physicians, specialists, and prescriptions. Depending on your insurance plan, copay amounts can range from $10 $45 per doctor visit. Medicare Part C and Part D charge copayment amounts for prescription and medical services.

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Walgreens New Shingles Vaccine Cost

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Recommended Reading: Do You Get A Rash With Shingles

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.

What Are The Complications Of Shingles

The most common and lasting complication of shingles is nerve pain, whats called postherpetic neuralgia , which can last for months or even years, long after the rash has cleared up. According to the CDC, between 10% and 18% of people whove had shingles will develop PHN.

PHN is a stabbing or throbbing pain or weakness where the shingles rash had been. The risk increases with age and the pain lasts longer and is more severe than in younger people.8

In rare cases, shingles can develop into pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness and brain inflammation.9 Only 1% to 4% of people with shingles are hospitalized for complications, though these are typically older adults and people whose immune systems are weak or suppressed, and fewer than 100 people die from shingles each year.10

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What Steps Can You Take To Make Sure You Are Covered If You Have Medicare Advantage With Drug Coverage Or Medicare Part D

If you already have Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part D, contact your provider to check your coverage. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private companies that Medicare approves.

If you are not yet on Medicare and want to find a plan that covers the shingles shot, you can use Medicares Find a Medicare Plan tool. This tool allows you to compare Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.

Does Medicare Cover Shingles Shots

FDA Approves New Shingles Vaccine

Proper diagnosing and treatment for shingles must first begin with a doctors visit. Part B pays for 80% of the doctors fee-for-service. Although, you must first have met your annual deductible amount.

Most Supplement plans cover your medical bills and filling in your gaps. But, once your doctor diagnoses you with the Shingles, medication, and vaccines are essential for treatment.

Read Also: Shingles Of The Face And Eye

What Vaccines Does Medicare Part D Cover

Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare Part D coverage is offered through private insurance companies through either a stand-alone Part D Prescription Drug Plan or a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Medicare Part D plans cover all vaccines that are:

  • Commercially available
  • Reasonable and necessary to prevent illness
  • Not covered by Medicare Part B

While Medicare Part B generally covers most vaccines that Medicare patients need, Medicare Part D generally covers vaccines that Medicare Part B does not cover. This would include the shingles vaccine. All Medicare Part D plans are required to cover the shingles vaccine and its administration.

To see if travel vaccines are covered by your Medicare Part D plan, check with the planâs formulary, or list of covered drugs. A new preventative vaccine may not specifically appear in the Medicare Part D plan formulary but the plan may still cover the vaccine.

What Vaccines Are Covered By Medicare Part D

Part D works with Parts A & B to help cover some of the costs of drugs, including vaccinations. You may choose only to have Part A and Part B coverage.

Enrolling in Part D isnt a requirement. However, Part D plans may help lessen some of the costs of drugs.

Also, waiting to enroll can result in extra costs.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says Part D pays for vaccines that Part B doesnt cover. Also, if a vaccine is commercially available or necessary to prevent illness Part D benefits apply.

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Each plan comes with a list of drugs and vaccines it covers. Medicare requires ALL Part D plan benefits to include the shingles vaccine .

Rules for step therapy, prior authorization, and quantity limits may vary between plans.

Our immune systems weaken as we grow older. Meaning, seniors are more susceptible to illness, disease, and infection.

Having coverage for vaccines is vital.

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Read Also: What Are Shingles Made Of

Solving The Part D Oop Problem

When the MMA was passed, vaccine OOP costs were only a theoretical problem. Then, in 2005, the first pertussis-containing vaccine for adults was licensed, followed by the first shingles vaccine in 2006. A 2011 GAO report showed that relatively few Medicare beneficiaries received these vaccines, and cost sharing was cited as a barrier to access.

A 2018 Avalere Health analysis I led found that uptake of the shingles vaccine was 40% to 60% higher when a Part D plan offered $0 cost sharing. In 2016, 95% of Part D beneficiaries encountered vaccine cost sharing, with OOP costs averaging $85. Other studies have affirmed that cost sharing is a definite barrier to vaccine access, resulting in lower uptake.

Over the years, the CMS has encouraged Part D plan sponsors to offer a $0 or low cost-sharing formulary tier for vaccines, but the offering remained optional. Passage of the Inflation Reduction Act now makes this mandatory and removes a barrier to vaccine uptake.

Brief History Of Medicare Vaccine Coverage

Is Shingrix Covered By Medicare Part F

For much of the 20th century, vaccination efforts concentrated on the childhood population, resulting in the successful reduction of morbidity and mortality associated with at least nine infectious diseases.

Following the development of the first vaccines for older adults, like influenza and pneumococcal disease, Congress amended the Medicare statute throughout the 1980s to ensure beneficiary access to these new vaccines and the Hepatitis B vaccine for those beneficiaries at intermediate to high risk of contracting the disease. As it enacted these coverage requirements under Part B, Congress took care to prohibit beneficiary cost sharing so that seniors would not be discouraged from receiving vaccines.

Eventually, in 2003, Congress passed the Medicare Modernization Act, creating Medicare Part D, a prescription drug benefit for seniors. Under the MMA, implemented in 2005, Part D sponsors must cover all commercially available vaccines except those covered under Part B. This inexplicable decision to cover future vaccines under the prescription drug benefit while leaving previous vaccine coverage in Part B created a peculiar split in Medicare vaccine coverage. There is no meaningful clinical distinction between Part B and Part D vaccines that justifies the separation. The result is an unevenness of vaccine coverage and access across settings of care and population segments, which will be perpetuated as new vaccines for older adults are licensed and recommended.

Read Also: Is The Shingles Vaccine Free

How Do I Get Coverage For The Shingles Vaccine

Medicare prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans that provide prescription drug coverage generally cover all commercially-available vaccinations. These plans will cover the vaccination medication and the administration of the shot by your doctor or physician. Depending on your plan benefits, you may have to pay a copayment or coinsurance amount. Make sure to follow your planâs guidelines for this vaccination to be covered.

You will pay the least amount of money out of pocket if you are vaccinated at a pharmacy in your drug planâs network. If you have questions about which pharmacies are included in your planâs network, contact your Medicare prescription drug plan or Medicare Advantage prescription drug plan for more information. To find a Medicare Part D plan in your area, enter your zip code on this page.

Medicare information is everywhere. What is hard is knowing which information to trust. Because eHealthâs Medicare related content is compliant with CMS regulations, you can rest assured youâre getting accurate information so you can make the right decisions for your coverage.Read more to learn about our Compliance Program.

Does Medicare Cover Shingles Vaccines In 2022

Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus . It produces a painful rash with fluid-filled blisters and typically shows up on one side of the body. The same virus that causes chickenpox causes shingles. Anyone who has had chickenpox in the past is at risk of getting shingles.

Shingles is a painful rash that occurs along the distribution of a nerve, called a dermatome, says Erum N. Ilyas, MD, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and founder of AmberNoon. The virus lays dormant in the nervous system. Immunity likely plays a role in preventing the virus from reactivating. When immunity is low, the virus replicates and spreads down the nerve causing pain, inflammation, and blistering.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults older than 50 get the shingles vaccine. Shingles can cause long-term nerve pain and nerve damage. Getting two shingles vaccine doses two to six months apart has proven to be very effective at preventing shingles.

Shingrix is a brand-name shingles vaccine and is currently the only shingles vaccine available in the United States. Zostavax, a previous zoster vaccine, wasdiscontinued in 2020.

RELATED: Get Shingrix coupons | What is Shingrix?

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Making Sure Youre Covered

There are a few steps you can take to make sure your shingles vaccine is covered if you have Medicare Advantage with drug coverage or Medicare Part D:

  • If your doctor cant bill your plan directly, ask your doctor to coordinate with an in-network pharmacy. The pharmacy might be able to give you the vaccine and bill your plan directly.
  • File your vaccine bill for reimbursement with your plan if you cant do either of the options above.

If you have to file for reimbursement, youll have to pay the full price of the shot when you get it. Your plan should reimburse you, but the amount covered will vary based on your plan and if the pharmacy was in your network.

Whats The Cost Of The Shingles Vaccine

Medicare Made Easy

According to GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturer of Shingrix, the two-shot series costs people with Medicare Part D an average of $50 per shot.15

As of October 2021, discount-coupon company GoodRx lists Shingrix at around $160, which is about 23% off its reported average retail price of $206.73.16 It indicates that Medicare plans list Shingrix typically in Tier 3 of their formulary. 17

Ultimately, how much your vaccine costs depends on the Medicare prescription plan or Medicare Advantage plan you choose, the vaccine you get and the pharmacy or doctors office where you have it administered.

If the shingles vaccine cost is unaffordable for you, GlaxoSmithKline has a Patient Assistance Program GSK for You that may be able to help you with the cost.

Read Also: What Medication Helps With Shingles

How Does Your Medicare Deductible Affect Your Vaccine Costs

The deductible amount of your Medicare plan affects how much you pay out of pocket before your insurer starts contributing to the cost of your prescription drugs. Depending on how many medications you take, the deductible could affect how much you spend on the vaccine.

Below, we’ll compare how much you’d pay for the shingles vaccine on two plans with different deductibles. In this situation, the person with the MedicareRx Walgreens plan pays less overall, even though they’re paying full price for the shingles vaccine.

Scenario: Shingrix is the only medication needed during the policy

AARP MedicareRx Walgreens
Cost of two doses of Shingrix vaccine $160 each, for a total of $320, because the deductible hasn’t been met $45 copay each, for a total of $90
Total annual cost of premiums and shingles vaccine $788 $1,122

In the example above, the AARP MedicareRx Walgreens prescription drug plan has a $455 deductible for Tier 3 drugs like the shingles vaccine. That means if you haven’t already met your deductible, you would pay full price for the vaccine, which would be $320 for two doses. The plan costs $38.60 per month for someone living in Charlotte, N.C. If the shingles vaccine is the only Tier 3, 4, or 5 drug needed during the policy year, your total annual spending would be $788.

What Parts Of Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine

Original Medicare Part A and Part B doesnt cover the shingles vaccine. However, there are other Medicare plans that may cover at least part of the costs. These include:

  • Medicare Part C. Medicare Advantage is a plan you can buy through a private insurance company. It may offer additional benefits not covered by original Medicare, including some preventive services. Many Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, which would cover the shingles vaccine.
  • Medicare Part D. This is the prescription drug coverage portion of Medicare and typically covers commercially available vaccines. Medicare requires Part D plans to cover the shingles shot, but the amount it covers can be very different from plan to plan.

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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.

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