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.
Why Doesn’t Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine As Free For All Seniors
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.
How Avalere Can Help
Avaleres Vaccines Team is well-positioned to help assess the impact of the IRAs changes on multiple stakeholders, including manufacturers, payers, providers, and patients. Additionally, Avalere can support clients in assessing remaining gaps in vaccine access across markets and identifying key policies to further improve patient uptake.
For more information on how Avalere can support you in advancing your vaccine policy priorities, connect with us.
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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.
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.
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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.
Indications For Tdap Vaccination
In addition to the standalone tetanus shot, it is also recommended that you get at least one Tdap booster as an adult, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis . It is also recommended during the third trimester of pregnancy.
However, the Tdap vaccine is currently not covered under the Part B benefit and may or may not be covered by your Medicare Advantage plan or Part D plan. Check your plan’s formulary.
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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.
How Does The Shingles Vaccine Work
Currently, there is only one vaccine available that has been approved by the FDA to prevent shingles. It is a recombinant zoster vaccine with the brand name Shingrix.
The FDA approved Shingrix in 2017. Its the CDCs recommended vaccine for shingles prevention. The vaccine contains inactivated viruses, which makes it more tolerable for people with compromised immune systems.
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Find Medicare Advantage Coverage For The Shingles Vaccine
Contact a licensed insurance agent today to find out if a Medicare Advantage plan is available where you live that will cover the shingles vaccine.
Find Medicare plans that cover the shingles vaccine
Or call 1-800-557-6059TTY Users: 711 to speak with a licensed insurance agent. We accept calls 24/7!
1 Umansky, Diane. The New Shingles Vaccine: What You Should Know About Shingrix. . Consumer Reports. Retrieved from www.consumerreports.org/shingles-vaccine/new-shingles-vaccine-shingrix-what-you-should-know.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shingles Vaccination. . Retrieved from www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/shingles/public/shingrix/index.html.
About the author
Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with MedicareAdvantage.com. He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles hes written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.
Christians work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.
Christians passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.
How Much Does The Shingles Vaccine Cost With Medicare
Most people who are enrolled in Medicare Part D pay less than $50 per dose for Shingrix, according to the vaccine’s manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline. However, your costs will vary based on the plan’s details and if you’ve already met your deductible amount by purchasing other prescription drugs.
For example, some seniors can get the shingles vaccine for free because it’s fully covered by their Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan. Others may have to pay a portion of the cost, such as a $50 copay per shot, or pay full price if the deductible hasn’t been met.
If you don’t have a prescription drug plan or you haven’t met your plan’s deductible, the retail cost for the shingles vaccine is $162 per shot. For the two-dose sequence, the total cost is $324. If the full price of the shingles vaccine is out of your budget, there are several ways you can save money on the vaccine.
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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.
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.
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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.
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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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.
What Is The Cost Of The Shingles Vaccine With Medicare Part D
Since every insurance plan is different, each Part D plan provides varying degrees of coverage for the shingles vaccine. Some plans may place the vaccine in Tier 1 while others may put it under Tier 3 . Some plans may also have a deductible, meaning 100% of your vaccination or drug costs are on you until you meet the dollar amount specified by your insurance plan.
The best way to know how much a shingles vaccine may cost you is to call your insurance provider and ask.
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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.
Fixing Medicare Vaccine Coverage Once And For All
Nonetheless, barriers to vaccine access remain for seniors due to the separate benefit part placement of vaccines in Part B and D. In seeming acknowledgment of the above problem, Congress acted rapidly to provide for coverage of COVID-19 vaccines without cost sharing under Part B when it passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act in March 2020, a full eight months before the first vaccine was authorized for emergency use.
As early as 2007 and as recent as 2021, the Medicare Payment and Access Commission recommended moving the coverage of vaccines from Part D to Part B. In the 2007 report, MedPAC foresaw the challenges stemming not only from beneficiary OOP costs under Part D, but also the challenges of physician out-of-network status under Part D. While pharmacists have long been permitted to roster bill vaccinations under Part B, easing the hurdle of split benefit part placement, physicians continue to face difficulty in offering Part D vaccines. Because they are out of network, this makes it difficult to ascertain coverage and cost sharing information. This may lead to patients paying the full cost of vaccines up front and seeking reimbursement under Part D later. This exacerbates the already burdensome financial requirements that result in lagging adult vaccine offerings in physician offices.
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Medicare Coverage For Shingles Vaccine
Shingrix is not the first shingles vaccine, but it is the only one currently on the market in the United States.Instead of using a live virus,the vaccine uses a protein from the virus to trigger an immune response. It is administered in two doses two to six months apart.
This shingles vaccine has been shown to decrease the risk for shingles by 97% for people between 50 and 69 years old and by 91% for people 70 and older. It reduces complications as well. The risk for post-herpetic neuralgia goes down by 91% and 89%, respectively, in those age groups.
Because the vaccine works well, it is important to know if and when Medicare covers it.
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.
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Who Needs The Shingles Vaccine
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends the shingles vaccine for people aged 50 and older. It is a manufactured inactivated vaccine intended to prevent shingles. The vaccine is administered in two separate doses given by intramuscular injection, separated by two to six months.
The shingles vaccine is considered an important vaccine for seniors because our immune system weakens as we age. The recommendation for vaccination is based on the potential severity of symptoms and long-term complications.
A shingles vaccine called Zostavax is no longer used in the U.S. as of November 2020. If you received that vaccine, the CDC recommends talking with your doctor about getting the Shingrix vaccine.
|The CDCs fact sheet on shingles lists these risks and potential complications:
Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles, but it does not prevent chickenpox.