Under Obamacare, most Americans will pay nothing for an influenza vaccine. And skipping the shot can be costly. When you think of the flu, the cost of getting sick probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But coming down with the virus can prove pricey.
A visit to the doctor’s office can run $80 to $100—or more. If you need to head to the ER on a night or weekend for care, the tab can easily total $500. With the average health plan deductible rising, you could owe the whole bill, or at least a decent share. In extreme cases, if you land in the hospital the cost (before insurance) can be $2,000
The 2016 flu season is here and sick days are about to start piling up. Should you get a flu shot? There are many good reasons to:
• On average, approximately 5% to 20% of U.S. residents get the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications each year. And consider all of the medicine you will be buying if you do get the flu and lost income from work if you are not on salary or lost personal days that would have been your winter or summer vacation. Not to mention the potential cost of doctors visits or hospitalizations.
• Despite all of that, only 47.1% of Americans got flu shots for the 2014-2015 flu season. That’s disappointingly low, considering the cost and widespread availability. It is a smart financial decision to get a flu shot, especially since the most you should ever have to pay is $30 or less. In most cases, flu shots are free!
• More employers are offering free flu shots to workers and family members, for the first time
Indirectly, through your employer or if you have a public health insurance exchange, your health insurance is required to pay for your flu shot without any co-sharing, due to Affordable Care Act coverage rules, when given by an in-network doctor or health provider.
Many county health departments offer free flu shots to children and the elderly. However, increasingly they are offering this service to everyone. The only downside is the potential for long waiting lines. Check out your county or cities website for more information.
If you don’t have health insurance, or an employer or county health department that offers free flu shots, there are a number of pharmacies and retailers offering fairly inexpensive flu shots.