USA: healthcare companies are charging for the vaccine

USA: healthcare companies are charging for the vaccine
USA: healthcare companies are charging for the vaccine

At the top of the ranking of countries that most vaccinated against Covid-19, in absolute numbers, the United States already has more than 130 million people protected against the virus. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the government-run health insurance systems agency, the public administration is responsible for all costs related to immunization, ensuring ample access to the vaccine for all Americans. But, some health companies are charging recipients for the doses applied, abusive practice and not allowed by the regulator.

Vaccination queue in the USA: companies are charging illegally for the doses applied. / Photo Spirit / Shutterstock

In Washington DC, the primary health care startup One Medical attributes the charging of an administrative fee to some random people as an “error in the billing system.” Responsible for vaccination at the District of Columbia Sports and Entertainment Arena, the company would also have conditioned the application of the immunizer to the registration of a test account with the company.

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According to a doctor who is a member of the startup, affected patients “are being notified” and should disregard the account. “We are monitoring daily to ensure that no new invoices come out,” said the corporation in an official statement. Regarding inducing people to fill out a test membership application, the claim is that the form would only provide information necessary to make the records of vaccinees on the spot.

On the CMS website, the agency reports that vaccination providers cannot: charge for the vaccine; charge directly for any administration fees, co-payments or coinsurance; deny vaccination to anyone who does not have health insurance coverage, is in default with the insurance or outside the network; charge a visit to the doctor’s office or other fee, if the only service provided is a vaccination from Covid-19; require additional services for a person to receive the immunizer.

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Health officials across the country are working towards fair distribution of the vaccine, removing barriers to registration, such as complex websites or overseeing undue charges associated with immunization.

However, efforts have not been sufficient to contain illegal practices, which have been taking place in various regions of the country. According to the Texas Department of Health Services, a clinic in Houston charged people $ 30 for each dose of the vaccine. The drugstore chain Walgreens, the second largest drugstore in the U.S., would be requiring people to create an online account to sign up for a vaccine appointment. Consumer rights organizations have asked the Attorney General’s Office to open an investigation to find out how companies are using this data.

One Medical vaccinated friends and family members of the company’s leadership

Investigative reporting by the National Public Radio (NPR), carried out in February, found that One Medical was applying the vaccine against Covid-19 to people who were not eligible in California and the state of Washington. The health departments of those states stopped distributing doses to the company after complaints that the priority rules were not being respected.

In many states, older people or those with comorbidities should be vaccinated first. The youngest and healthiest, just after that group.

The startup claims that its vaccine scheduling system did not ask people to confirm that they were compatible with local priority guidelines. “Preventing people from signing up would be very difficult from a technological point of view,” said a company spokesman. However, according to NPR, family members and friends of members of One Medical’s leadership would have been prioritized in the vaccination queue.

Fonte: The Verge

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