Will the Covid-19 vaccine be free?

Here’s how much the shot will cost you out of pocket

Dec 16, 2020 | Current events
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Zilch, nada, nothing, zip

Forget Santa — you can thank the federal government for the greatest gift this holiday: a free Covid-19 vaccine. Federal health officials have said the vaccine will be free for anyone who wants one through 2021. After that, they'll be part of routine preventative care and fall under the same reimbursement rules as the flu vaccine. Doses are being sent to healthcare providers now, who must inoculate people without charging them. Providers can charge a fee for administering the shot, but insurance companies should cover that cost. A vaccine will likely be available to all Americans by late spring or early summer.

So who’s picking up the tab?

Back in March — when a Covid-19 vaccine existed only in our daydreams — the CARES Act guaranteed vaccination would be free for all Americans. The feds poured $10 billion into vaccine R&D and pieced together a patchwork of laws to ensure every group was covered. So you won't get hit with any surprise bills, even if you’re uninsured or stray out of network. The end game? To get the majority of Americans vaccinated as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

  • Medicare and Medicaid recipients: Medicare’s trust fund will spend nearly $3 billion to vaccinate 130 million covered Americans.
  • Insured Americans: All ACA-compliant plans must cover the cost of routine immunizations (like the Covid-19 vaccine) with no out-of-pocket costs for patients.
  • Uninsured Americans: The Provider Relief Fund will reimburse providers that vaccinate anyone who is uninsured.