Does Medicare Pay For Shingles Shots
Heres the quick answer
Surprisingly, Original Medicare doesnt cover the shingles vaccine, even though it covers other vaccines like the flu vaccine and pneumonia shot.
On the other hand, Medicare Part Dor a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part D coveragetypically does cover the vaccine.
The devil is in the details
Every Part D plan is different, so your copay for a shingles vaccine could vary from one insurance plan to another. For this reason, its always good to check your plans formulary to see which vaccines they cover and which tier those medications fall under.
Part D covers a lot more than the shingles vaccine, providing coverage for prescription medications. If you need the shingles vaccine and prescription drug coverage, see our guide on how to find the best Part D plan for you, or learn more about Part D first.
Does Medicare Pay For Shingles Vaccines
Some Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans that include drug coverage may cover the shingles vaccine.
Original Medicare Parts A and B pay for inpatient and outpatient services, respectively, and neither typically pays for shingles vaccines.
Part D drug plans and Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans are offered to eligible Medicare beneficiaries and are sold by private insurance companies. Plans can vary by a wide margin on what they cover and how much they pay for drug-related services, and only a plan representative can give a definitive answer to whether a specific plan pays for SHINGRIX.
Most Part D and MA-PD plans do help cover the singles vaccine, however. The costs a beneficiary may face such as coinsurance, deductibles and copays for the vaccine may vary from plan to plan.
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What Are My Options For The Shingles Shot
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.
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Does Medicare Cover Shingles Shots At Pharmacies
Always check with your insurance company, but getting your shingles shot at a doctors office may not be covered the same as if you get it at a pharmacy. Because its a Part D service, shots given at pharmacies are applied directly to your Part D plan just like other prescription drug costs. Does Medicare pay for shingles shot if a doctor gives it? Probably, but you may need to pay upfront and submit a claim for reimbursement.
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Does Medicare Part D Cover The Shingles Vaccine
Yes, Medicare Part D is usually able to cover all of the commercially available vaccines, including the shingles vaccine. So, if you are enrolled in Medicare Part D, then you may be covered for it. Its important that you check your Medicare drug plan to learn whether it offers coverage for the shingles shot.
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Does Medicaid Cover The Shingles Vaccine
- Does Medicaid cover the shingles vaccine? Find out whether Medicaid covers shingles vaccines like Shingrex, including what you’ll pay and who’s eligible.
Shingles is a painful rash caused by a reactivation of the chickenpox vaccine. The condition can also cause complications such as postherpetic neuralgia, which causes long-term nerve pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people over 50 receive two shots of Shingrix, a vaccine that prevents shingles and associated complications. Many people want to know if Medicare covers the shingles vaccine. Below, you can find out everything you need to know about shingles vaccine coverage through Medicaid and Medicare.
Can You Get The Shingles Vaccine For Free
The shingles vaccine is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, a pharmaceutical company. GSK has a patient assistance program that may provide the vaccine to you at no cost if you meet these eligibility criteria:
- You dont have prescription drug coverage or a Part D plan and have spent at least $600 during the calendar year
- You are an adult, age 19 or older
- You live in the U.S., Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia
- You dont qualify for Puerto Ricos Government Health Plan
- Your maximum monthly gross income does not exceed certain limits, depending on where you reside and your household size
- You apply through your health care provider, who will register for the patient assistance program and submit your application
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Medicare Part D Coverage
Original Medicare doesnt cover most prescription drugs, but you do have the option of purchasing a Part D plan. These plans are sold by private insurers and offer coverage for a range of prescription drugs.
While there is some variation in Part D plans since they are provided by different private companies, they typically must include coverage for Shingrix.
Cdc Shingles Vaccine Recommendations
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Shingrix vaccination for everyone 50 years and older and those 19 years and older who have weakened immune systemseven if you have already had shingles, if you had another type of shingles vaccine, and if you dont know whether or not youve had chickenpox in the past.
You should not get the vaccine if you have a severe allergy to any of the components, currently have shingles, or you have lab tests that definitively show that you do not have antibodies against the varicella-zoster virus. In that case, you may be better off getting the varicella vaccine instead. Also, those who are pregnant should consider delaying vaccination with Shingrix until after delivery.
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How Well Does Shingrix Work
Two doses of Shingrix provide strong protection against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia , the most common complication of shingles.
- In adults 50 to 69 years old with healthy immune systems, Shingrix was 97% effective in preventing shingles in adults 70 years and older, Shingrix was 91% effective.
- In adults 50 years and older, Shingrix was 91% effective in preventing PHN in adults 70 years and older, Shingrix was 89% effective.
- In adults with weakened immune systems, Shingrix was between 68% and 91% effective in preventing shingles, depending on their underlying immunocompromising condition.
In people 70 years and older who had healthy immune systems, Shingrix immunity remained high throughout 7 years following vaccination.
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.
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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
- 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.
Why Doesnt Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine As Free For All Seniors
Many people think that a vaccine thats 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 isnt a generic alternative. This could mean that your out-of-pocket costs are higher than for other medications.
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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.
Why Do You Need Shingles Shot
For older Americans, the shingles vaccine is an important way to protect against the herpes zoster virus. The virus can cause a painful rash and blisters. It can also lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia, brain damage, and even death.
It is recommended that adults over the age of 60 get the vaccine. If you are over the age of 60, talk to your doctor about whether the shingles vaccine is right for you and let an insurance broker find the best Medicare shingles vaccine plan.
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What Vaccines Does Wellcare Pay For
All Medicare Advantage plans including Wellcare Medicare plans are required by law to cover all the same vaccines that are covered by Medicare Part B. This includes vaccinations for:
- Flu Flu shots are typically covered once per year during flu season
- Pneumococcal Coverage is for a one-time vaccine given in two doses, generally one year apart.
- Hepatitis B Coverage is for a one-time vaccine given in two to four doses over one to six months for those at medium to high risk, including those with diabetes.
- COVID-19 Coverage includes the two-dose vaccine from either Pfizer or Morderna and the single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. Medicare covers a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot at least six months after completing the two-dose cycle of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or at least two months after the Johnon & Johnson vaccine.
Additional vaccines are covered if you have been exposed to a harmful virus or bacteria. For example, a tetanus shot would be covered if you stepped on a rusty nail, or a rabies shot would be covered if you were bitten by a stray dog.
If your Wellcare plan includes prescription drug benefits, you may have coverage for some additional vaccines. Some of the vaccines covered by the prescription drug portion of a Wellcare Medicare Advantage plan may include:
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.
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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.
What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Shingrix
Studies show that Shingrix is safe. The vaccine helps your body create a strong defense against shingles. As a result, you are likely to have temporary side effects from getting the shots. The side effects might affect your ability to do normal daily activities for 2 to 3 days.
Most people got a sore arm with mild or moderate pain after getting Shingrix, and some also had redness and swelling where they got the shot. Some people felt tired, had muscle pain, a headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea. Some people who got Shingrix experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities. Symptoms went away on their own in about 2 to 3 days. Side effects were more common in younger people.
You might have a reaction to the first or second dose of Shingrix, or both doses. If you experience side effects, you may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Guillain-Barré syndrome , a serious nervous system disorder, has been reported very rarely after Shingrix. There is also a very small increased risk of GBS after having shingles.
If you experience side effects from Shingrix, you should report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System . Your doctor might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS websiteexternal icon, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.
If you have any questions about side effects from Shingrix, talk with your doctor.
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What Should I Do If I Have Shingles
If you think you may have shingles, see a doctor as soon as possible and get a professional diagnosis. While some cases are mild and may clear up on their own without treatment, other cases can cause severe pain and require medication to manage.
Its also important to take steps to avoid spreading the virus. The Centers for Disease Control recommends keeping the rash covered and washing your hands often. Avoid touching the rash as much as possible and avoid contact with people who may be at risk, including:
- Premature infants
- Pregnant women who have not had chickenpox or been vaccinated for it
- People with HIV or weakened immune systems due to cancer treatment, organ transplant, or immunosuppressive drugs
Your doctor may recommend antiviral drugs, or simply treating the rash with over-the-counter medication such as calamine lotion to soothe the pain of the blisters. Treatment can reduce the pain and duration of the symptoms, but doesnt cure the disease altogether.
For many seniors, the most painful part of shingles isnt the rash, but post-herpetic neuralgia, which can last a year or more in some cases. Although not everyone who gets shingles will experience post-herpetic neuralgia, it can have a big impact on those that do. Some people develop chronic pain that lasts for years and affects their quality of life.
How Much Does Shingrix Cost
The amount you pay will depend on your plan coverage and where you get the vaccine. For the best cost options, youll likely want to choose a pharmacy in your network.
Youll still need a doctors prescription for the vaccination. Youll find most major chains and some independent pharmacies can administer the vaccine.
If youre a Network Health Medicare Advantage member, check your Evidence of Coverage for details..
If youre vaccinated in a doctors office you will likely owe an office visit copayment.
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