SPOKANE, Wash. -- According to the CDC, "the federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status." That's why two local women were surprised to receive bills for their first dose.
The women wrote in two very similar 'Help Me Hayley' requests. The first woman, Kathy, writing in part.
"Hello Hayley! I received my first dose of the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine on 4/9/2021 at the Multicare mass vaccination clinic. I was told I needed to provide my insurance information when I made the appointment through their website, which I thought was strange because the vaccine should be completely free for everyone in the United States. Over a month later now, I am soon to be due for my second dose and I received a bill for the original amount of $43.00 for the administration fee of the vaccine. The CDC website says that COVID-19 vaccination providers cannot charge you for the vaccine or charge you directly for any administration fees, copays, or coinsurance. I have family members that were vaccinated at the Providence clinics and the Spokane Arena clinic and they were never asked for insurance information and were never billed for the vaccine or any additional fees. With the second dose, this would total to $86.00 and I know myself and many people during this hard time cannot afford that, especially under the pretense that the federal government has made this free to all people in the United States. I want someone to know about this because I am positive that I am not alone and this seems wrong."
Another viewer, Maria, wrote to Hayley also with a similar concern. She wrote in part, "I just got my second COVID vaccine this morning at Deaconess Multicare and got home to discover a bill from Multicare for 17.20 for my first vaccine injection. I am extremely furious that I'm being billed for a FREE government-paid vaccine and also furious that I was not told upfront that they would try billing me at which time I would have left and scheduled my COVID vaccine with another vaccine provider."
Both women provided copies of their bills and our Help Me Hayley worked to get some answers. We immediately called Multicare to try to find an explanation. By Monday evening, we heard back.
A spokesperson for Multicare provided the following statement:
"Vaccine doses purchased with taxpayer dollars will be given at no cost to an individual at MultiCare. There was a clerical error that impacted roughly 1,500 patients in the Inland Northwest a few weeks ago related to vaccine billing, and as soon as we recognized the error we took the following corrective actions:
- Corrected all patient balances
- Began the process to refund any patient who paid the bill
For the patients affected by this error, no action is needed. Our billing system is flagging these accounts and our team is correcting the error. Patients who received the incorrect billing statement will not receive another statement."