Insurers Say COVID Vaccine Problems Have Been Corrected

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Sept. 28, 2023 – Technical issues that resulted in denied insurance coverage for the updated COVID-19 vaccines have been “largely, if not completely, resolved,” the nation’s largest health insurers told federal officials on Wednesday.

“You have our commitment that health insurers are fully covering the new COVID-19 shots, as required, with no cost sharing when consumers access them from a network provider or receive them through an out-of-network provider when in-network options are unavailable,” an industry group said in a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

On Sept. 12, the CDC recommended the new vaccine for all people ages 6 months and older, and manufacturers said supplies of the vaccines were ready. But there have been widespread reports of the shots not reaching pharmacies, and insurers have sometimes denied coverage despite a federal requirement that they pay the entire cost. Prior to this round of vaccines, all shots were paid for by the government, although people without insurance can still get a free vaccine through a federal program.

Federal officials met virtually Wednesday with insurance company executives to discuss what HHS called “recent technical issues” regarding access to the vaccines. Insurers represented on the call included Blue Cross Blue Shield, CVS Health, Humana, Cigna, Anthem, Kaiser, and United Healthcare.

So far, 2 million people in the U.S. have received the new booster shot this fall, according to HHS

After a summer-long increase in COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, most indicators are trending downward. For the week ending Sept. 16, 12.5% of all 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, according to the CDC. Deaths due to COVID have been on the rise and accounted for 2.7% of all U.S. deaths for the week ending Sept. 16, with large increases reported in Kentucky, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Georgia.