Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Indiana stops free vaccines for those with medical insurance

Family Voices shares the following information from WTHR regarding health department vaccination policies. There is a list of county health department numbers at the end of the note:

INDIANAPOLIS - Starting next month, the state will no longer provide free vaccines for children who have medical insurance.

It's a move to save the state some money, but passing along the cost is creating a hardship for some Indiana families.

Pediatricians are expecting some tough conversations with parents starting July 1st.

"The immunizations have to be done in order to get into school and the state won't pay for them," said Dr. Jerrold Smith, Community Pediatrics.

That's when the state's policy goes into effect barring county health departments from giving low-cost shots to children already covered by health insurance.

"They're asking us not to send them there because they're running out of money," said Dr. Smith.

Before school started last year, Marion County residents could go to the Marion County Health Department and get their child up to date on all of the required vaccinations for $10. Starting July 1st, those state-funded shots will be reserved for children who lack insurance, who are on Medicaid, who are Alaskan natives or native Americans, or who have health insurance that doesn't cover vaccinations

Doctors say the problem is that many health plans say the vaccinations are covered once patients meet their deductible. In some cases, that's $1,000 or more.

"An awful lot of families don't have a spare $700 or $800 to provide for immunizations," said Dr. Smith.

"That raises for us a huge concern that we may see a significant number of children not get immunized because of this issue," said Dr. Virginia Caine, Marion County Health Department.

Doctors say to fix the problem, legislators would have to mandate that all insurance companies pay for immunizations. They say that's unlikely before August, when most students go back to school.

"When the school system finds out that they're not up to date, then they're going to have to make adjustments at that time," said Dr. Smith.

Each county health department will handle the new policy in their own way. For example, the Hamilton County Health Department won't offer any vaccines at all and will instead refer parents to private practices. In Marion County, parents will still be able to obtain the shots for their children at the health department, but they'll be required to pay full price - which in some cases is up to $60 depending on the vaccination.

Parents still have a few more days to get the immunizations for their children at the lower rate.

County health department phone numbers

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