In a recent letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the nation's largest health insurers assured federal officials that technical issues resulting in denied insurance coverage for the updated COVID-19 vaccines have been largely resolved. The insurers have pledged to fully cover the new COVID-19 shots with no cost sharing for consumers accessing them from network providers or receiving them from out-of-network providers when in-network options are unavailable.
This assurance comes after reports of the vaccines not reaching pharmacies and insurers denying coverage, despite a federal requirement that they cover the entire cost. Prior to this round of vaccines, the government covered the cost of all shots, and those without insurance can still receive a free vaccine through a federal program.
In a virtual meeting on Wednesday, federal officials met with insurance company executives to discuss recent technical issues surrounding vaccine access. Blue Cross Blue Shield, CVS Health, Humana, Cigna, Anthem, Kaiser, and United Healthcare were among the insurers represented on the call.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2 million people in the U.S. have already received the new booster shot this fall. This comes at a time when COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are trending downward after a summer-long increase. As of the week ending September 16, 12.5% of reported tests were positive, COVID-19 accounted for 1.9% of emergency department visits, and there were 19,674 hospital admissions due to severe cases of the illness. However, deaths due to COVID-19 have been on the rise, accounting for 2.7% of all U.S. deaths for the week ending September 16, with significant increases reported in Kentucky, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Georgia.
Overall, the resolution of technical issues related to insurance coverage for the new COVID-19 vaccines is a positive step, ensuring that consumers have access to the vaccines without additional cost. As vaccination numbers continue to rise and COVID-19 indicators trend downward, there is cautious optimism for the ongoing fight against the virus. However, the increase in COVID-19 deaths in certain states serves as a reminder that the virus is still a significant threat in certain areas.