The U.S. Will Cease Purchasing Covid Shots for the Public

Covid Shots

The U.S. will stop buying Covid injections for the whole country at a lower price and move vaccine distribution to the private sector as soon as early autumn. This will put the burden on U.S. insurance and people who don’t have insurance and can’t get free covid shots.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID response coordinator, told the UCSF Department of Medicine on Thursday that the transition to a private market would take place throughout the summer or early autumn; although no specific date has been specified.

According to a senior Health and Human Services Department official, the fall would be a natural time to transition to a private market, especially if the Food and Drug Administration selects a new COVID strain for the vaccines and requests that manufacturers produce updated covid shots ahead of the respiratory virus season.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the United States has purchased the vaccinations directly from Pfizer and Moderna for an average price of around $21 per dosage over the last two years.

The federal government has made it a requirement that pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and hospitals give these covid shots for free to everyone, regardless of whether or not they have health insurance.

Those Who Have Medical Coverage

When the government’s COVID immunization program stops, the injections will remain free for anyone with health insurance owing to ACA restrictions.

Uninsured adults, on the other hand, may have to pay for their covid shots if Pfizer and Moderna begin selling the injections on the commercial market and the present government stockpile runs out. Children whose families or caregivers can’t pay for immunizations can get them for free through a government program.

On Tuesday, Jha said that the planned transition is unrelated to the closure of the COVID public health emergency in May.

“The end of the PHE does not imply that individuals will suddenly be unable to obtain the immunizations and medicines they need,” Jha stated on Tuesday in a Twitter thread.

When the federal government no longer purchases vaccinations at a discount for the whole country, individual healthcare providers will pay a higher price to the vaccine manufacturers.

Last month, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC that the business plans to offer the vaccinations on the private market as early as this fall. During the company’s earnings call this week, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla informed investors that the vaccines would be available in the second half of the year.

Pfizer and Moderna have said that if the US government withdraws from the vaccination initiative, they would consider raising the price of the covid shots to roughly $110 to $130 per dosage.

Those Who Do Not Have Health Insurance

“If you’re uninsured, you could have to pay the whole amount,” said Cynthia Cox, a Kaiser Family Foundation specialist on the Affordable Care Act.

However, the United States still possesses a large stockpile of free immunizations. Last year, the Biden administration purchased 171 million omicron boosters. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 51 million boosters have been delivered so far.

The uninsured will still be able to get these 120 million medicines for free, but no one knows how long the supply will last.

“With the stock we have of vaccinations and antivirals, we don’t believe we’ll be in a hurry to dump this on market partners,” the HHS official added.

Although vaccine manufacturers plan to sell injections on the commercial market later this year, Cox believes the government stockpile of free doses may last longer since booster adoption has been low.

“As long as this government stockpile lasts, everyone in the United States, regardless of citizenship or insurance, can get a free shot,” Cox said.

In a letter to Moderna’s CEO last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., lambasted the vaccination price increase. Sanders, the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said that the price increase will cost taxpayers billions of dollars due to the effect on Medicaid and Medicare budgets.

“Perhaps most importantly, the vaccine will be inaccessible to millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans who will be unable to buy it,” Sanders added. “How many of these Americans may perish from COVID-19 because of a lack of access to these vital vaccines?”

This week, Jha said that the uninsured would get assistance from the Biden administration in gaining access to COVID injections and therapies.

“We are developing a whole different set of initiatives for the uninsured because, by definition, the uninsured will not be able to obtain vaccinations and treatments for free under the standard insurance system,” Jha said on Thursday. “We’re working on a solution for it.”

The HHS source said that one way the federal government plans to help is through Section 317, which gives money to buy and give free immunizations to people who don’t have health insurance.


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