Maryland and New Mexico Launch Hotlines So People Can Report If They’ve Been Charged For Shots That Are Supposed To Be Free

Published on

By Mansur Shaheen, THE DAILY MAIL UK

May 28, 2021

States are setting up hotlines amid reports that some Americans are being charged for the COVID-19 vaccine, which is supposed to be free.

Maryland and New Mexico are the first two states to set up specific hotlines after hundreds of vaccine recipients said they received bills in the mail.

The federal government, which pays for every American’s shot, has also created its own phone number for people to report the bills. 

Meanwhile, attorneys generals in Colorado, New York and California have also launched investigations into fees being charged to vaccine recipients.  

There are reports of Americans receiving bills after being vaccinated for Covid-19. The vaccines are free of cost to Americans, with the federal government and insurance providers being responsible for covering costs associated. Cases seem to be disproportionately be happening in underserved communities. 

Vaccine providers are allowed to bill a person’s insurance after they receive the vaccine, but it is illegal for the insurance company to pass off those costs to the consumer.

Some providers argue that the federal government is not covering all costs associated with the vaccine, so it is fair to bill the vaccine recipient.  

‘It covers nurses, doctors, all of the things that it takes to set it up,’ Vincent Keane, CEO of Unity Health, a vaccine provider, told ABC News

‘The medical assistants that give out the vaccinations, they were pulled from seeing patients, so that costs us money.

‘The vaccines are free, but setting them up and doing them, transferring them – all of that costs money.’ 

The federal government wants to avoid anyone receiving bills for getting vaccinated, as it will be a deterrent to receiving the vaccine.

Many will be willing to receive the vaccine if it free of charge – as it is supposed to be in the United States – but will not be willing to pay to receive it, especially if the fees are as large as many other health care costs in the country. 

The bills also add to confusion about the vaccine that many may have.

Demand for the vaccine has stagnated in recent weeks, and some Americans being concerned about having to pay to receive a vaccine only hinders the effort 

A survey from March found that seven million Americans may not get vaccinated as they fear it may cost them money. 

Americans fearful over the vaccines costs – even though there are not any – are more likely to be poorer and from minority communities. 

Many of the recipients of the bills seem to be in underserved communities as well.

For example, in Chicago, a city with a large population of Black people and people living in poverty, there are widespread reports of people being billed after getting vaccinated. 

An activist group in Nevada found that many in the Latino community were not getting vaccinated because they were confused about information regarding billing and insurance. 

There are also reports of people being told before receiving the vaccine that they must pay a fee.  

In Maryland, which set up a hotline to report these issues, some of the ‘arbitrary’ forms and information needed to receive a vaccine at different cites have confused residents in low-income areas. 

‘We have a health insurance system that’s fractured between the for-profit and non-profit and the government, and people are getting their vaccines from all kinds of different providers,’ said Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog, told ABC. 

‘That’s why you’re seeing different information being asked at different locations.’  

Currently, more than 60 percent of American adults have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and about half of the total U.S. population is fully vaccinated.

Health experts believe it will take between 75 and 80 percent of the population to get vaccinated to reach herd immunity. 

President Joe Biden has set a goal of getting 70 percent of Americans vaccinated by July 4.

Reaching those marks will be tough, though, as vaccine demand has plummeted in recent weeks, and with around 20 percent of Americans saying that they will not get the vaccine unless it is required of them, according to Kaiser Family Foundation data.

Adding an extra barrier of potential costs to the vaccine rollout is another hurdle the country does not need right now as it hopes to return to normal in the coming year. 

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

Latest Healthcare Videos

Video thumbnail
KGTV-SD (ABC) - San Diego, CA: Doctor Accused of Putting Hidden Camera In A Hospital Restroom
Video thumbnail
KFMB-SD (CBS) - San Diego, CA: Dental Visit Leads To Hospital Stay
Video thumbnail
KGET - Bakersfield, CA: California Medical Board Meets in Bakersfield to Address Maternal Mortality
Video thumbnail
KBAK (FOX58) - Bakersfield, CA: High Maternal Mortality Rate
Video thumbnail
KERO-BFL (23ABC) – Bakersfield, CA: Maternal Mortality Addressed By Medical Board
Video thumbnail
KERO-BFL (23ABC) – Bakersfield, CA: Pregnancy Care Mistreatment
Video thumbnail
CNBC - Last Call: Home Insurance Crisis
Video thumbnail
KOVR-SAC (CBS) - Sacramento, CA: Physician Under Fire For Sexual Battery
Video thumbnail
KERO-BFL (ABC) - Bakersfield, CA: Crystal Guijarro Rodriguez on the Negligence of Doctors
Video thumbnail
KERO-BFL (ABC) - Bakersfield, CA: "DO NO HARM: Loss and Liability in the Medical Field"
Video thumbnail
KFMB-SD (CBS) - San Diego, CA: Hundreds Wrongly Told They May Have Cancer
Video thumbnail
KERO-BFL (ABC) - Bakersfield, CA: Larcenia Taylor on the Loss of Her Husband James Taylor
Video thumbnail
KERO-BFL (ABC) - Bakersfield, CA: Monica De La Rosa Speaks About the Loss of her Daughter Sabrina
Video thumbnail
KERO-BFL (ABC) - Bakersfield, CA: Tracy Dominguez Speaks About The Loss of Her Daughter and Grandson
Video thumbnail
KERO-BFL (ABC) - Bakersfield, CA: Michele Ramos Speaks About Loss and Liability in the Medical Field
Video thumbnail
KGET - Consumer Watchdog Advocates Note The Importance of Making Change Within The Healthcare System
Video thumbnail
ABC - Bakersfield, CA; Consumer Watchdog Shows Support in Honor of the Latina Maternal Health Fair
Video thumbnail
KABC- Los Angeles, CA; Pathways Medical in Toluca Lake Owner Falsely Claims to be A Licensed Doctor
Video thumbnail
Spectrum News; CW Argues Senate Bill 815's Proposed Changes Aren't Enough To Protect Patients
Video thumbnail
WABI (CBS) - Bangor, ME; Consumer Watchdog's Jerry Flanagan Speaks Upon Medical Debt Reform
Video thumbnail
KBAK-TV; Bakersfield Report on EuroPhoria
Video thumbnail
KGO - San Francisco, CA; The Shortest, Most Expensive Ambulance Ride
Video thumbnail
23 (ABC); Tracy Dominguez and Selena Alvarez Seek Justice At The Osteopathic Medical Board Meeting
Video thumbnail
CBS 8: Chula Vista Plastic Surgeon Charged With Manslaughter Still In Practice
Video thumbnail
KTLA - Los Angeles, CA; Consumer Watchdog Group Members Calling For A Patient Bill of Rights
Video thumbnail
KNBC - Los Angeles, CA; Medical Board Member TJ Watkins Calls On Californians To Help
Video thumbnail
KGET NBC TV-17 Bakersfield, CA: Gov Newsom Signs Bill To Increase Med Mal Damages Cap
Video thumbnail
KGET NBC TV-17 Bakersfield, CA: Local Family Supports Passage of AB 35 To Raise Med Mal Cap in CA
Video thumbnail
KNSD NBC TV-7 San Diego, CA: CA Bill Seeks to Raise Medical Malpractice Damages Cap
Video thumbnail
KOVR CBS TV-13 Sacramento, CA: How Will State Raising Medical Malpractice Cap Affect Patients?
Video thumbnail
KERO ABC TV-23 Bakersfield, CA: Families of Malpractice Victims Push for Doctor Accountability
Video thumbnail
KABC TV-7 Los Angeles, CA: Victims of Medical Malpractice Demand Changes at California Medical Board
Video thumbnail
KCBS TV-2 Los Angeles, CA: COVD Testing Lab Defrauding Consumers in California
Video thumbnail
KCAL TV 9, CBS, Los Angeles: GOP healthcare plan may bring back the days of junk insurance
Video thumbnail
KCAL TV-9 Los Angeles, CA: What Consumers Should Know About Potential Obamacare Changes
Video thumbnail
Bernie Sanders speaks for Prop 61!
Video thumbnail
Exposed: Trump's Health Plan
Video thumbnail
AHF's Michael Weinstein speaks for Prop 61
Video thumbnail
CURES: How Far We Have Come
Video thumbnail
Who Does Your Doctor Care About Protecting?
Video thumbnail
Bernie Sanders at Prop 61 rally
Video thumbnail
"Your Money or Your Life" (Trailer #1)
Video thumbnail
"Your Money or Your Life" (Trailer #2)
Video thumbnail
KGET NBC TV-17 Bakersfield, CA: Push To Reform CA State Medical Board Advances
Video thumbnail
KGET NBC TV-17 Bakersfield, CA: Two Years Since Childbirth Tragedy By Alleged Medical Negligence
Video thumbnail
KGET NBC TV-17 Bakersfield, CA: Dominguez Family Testifies At Med Board Hearing To Get Justice

Latest Healthcare Releases

Healthcare In The News

Latest Healthcare Report

Support Consumer Watchdog

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, press releases and special reports.

More Healthcare Releases