Considering a Covid-19 vaccine, Paul Moser remembers a $1,200 medical debt that has remained unpaid from several urology visits.
The 52-year-old gas station worker in New York has many friends in similar situations. They were surprised when they received the bill for nCoV testing – a medical procedure that is free in the US, worried that a similar case would happen with vaccines.
“The authorities announced that we were tested for free. Then, all of a sudden, a bill for $150 came in. I agree vaccinations are very important, but right now, for me, it’s not urgent.” he said.
In fact, this is a problem that persists for many years in the US, known as “medical billing”, which often occurs when a hospital allows a doctor from another specialty, outside of its coverage, to intervene. healthcare. For example, a patient goes to a hospital that accepts insurance, but is treated by an emergency physician. These doctors often bill much higher than what regular health and social security plans pay. As a result, the patient has to pay the bills that arise up to thousands of dollars.
The US Congress in 2020 passed a law banning medical facilities from issuing invoices for Covid-19 infections and vaccine users. Signboards at many vaccination sites emphasize “Free Vaccines”. From the beginning, health officials and the government repeatedly repeated the message “no need to spend money to vaccinate”.
However, many people are still concerned about the huge costs incurred, using it as an excuse not to vaccinate. Some are used to a health system where the bills are often unexpectedly large.
The Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that about a third of unvaccinated adults are unsure whether insurance will cover the cost of the vaccine. They worry about having to do this out of pocket, especially Hispanics and communities of color.
“People are like, ‘Yes, I know vaccinations very well. I want to get vaccinated, but I don’t have insurance.’ We’re trying to let people know that vaccines are free,” said Ilan Shapiro, director of the vaccine. Medical of AltaMed, said.
Bewilderment represents a lack of information, or prejudice from past medical experiences. “People hear that vaccines are free, but they don’t believe it,” said Liz Hamel, director of survey research at Kaiser.
The US Congress tries to protect the right of the people to get tested and vaccinated. Early in the pandemic, officials urged insurance companies to pay for both services and set up a reimbursement fund for doctors who treat uninsured patients.
Even so, many people still receive medical expenses incurred, sometimes up to $1,000. Some doctors intentionally bill patients for tests.
Authorities then tightened vaccination regulations. To register as a vaccination facility, doctors and pharmacies must sign a contract committing not to charge users. The drastic measures seem to be effective. While many patients complain of huge sums of money after Covid-19 treatment and testing, this situation is rarely repeated with the vaccine program.
Bills incurred when vaccination, testing and Covid-19 treatment easily create a bad impression on patients. According to a 2013 study by the University of California, people with a lot of medical debt are more likely to overlook needed health care services later on.
“The media and people around them may tell them that vaccines are free, but they have had negative problems before. The health system makes them distrustful,” said Lucie Kalousova, who led the study. .
Those who have lost money to treat Covid-19 wonder why vaccines are different. Elizabeth Drummond, a 42-year-old mother in Oregon, said: “This is America. Health care is never free. I knew in advance how the vaccination process would play out. They would try to take advantage of it. it”.
However, some experts say the surveys have exaggerated the problem. In a New York Times interview, many people don’t really care about vaccine prices. Instead, they expressed frustration with the US health system as a whole.
“The cost is small. I think vaccines are a scam. It’s just the government’s way of seeing how much control they can control,” said Cody Sirman, 32.
Others worry more about vaccine side effects. “Most people don’t get vaccinated for a number of reasons combined, not just one thing in particular,” Hamel said.
Tiffany Addotey, a 42-year-old bus driver in North Carolina, said she had an unpleasant experience when she was tested for nCoV.
“Some places charge $200 for each test. I don’t pay, I just go home. I already have too many bills to pay,” she said.
Addotey is concerned both about the safety of vaccines because they are being developed so quickly, as well as the government’s recent move to stop the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Thuc Linh (According to the NY Times)