respond to changing childhood immunization costs
Beginning July 1 the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare will begin allotting free childhood immunization vaccines only for children on Medicaid, uninsured children, children who are Alaska Native or Native American, or those whose insurances do not cover immunizations. According to a notice from the Idaho Immunization program, since 1994 IDHW has provided vaccines for all children aged 0-18 regardless of insurance status. However, during the budget process this year $2.8 million for state vaccine purchases was eliminated for fiscal year 2010. In the past clinics and health care providers would request the vaccines from the state and receive the needed amount to administer at no cost regardless of the insurance status of the child.
The seven clinics administered by St. Mary’s and Clearwater Valley Hospitals will continue to use state allotted vaccines for the children who qualify and will purchase additional vaccines to administer to children who are covered by insurance. CVHC/SMHC will bill private insurances for the vaccine cost.
“When a parent calls to schedule an appointment for a well child exam or wants to come in for childhood vaccinations we will be asking them if they are insured and, if so, to contact their insurance companies to inquire about their coverage of childhood immunizations. If a company does not cover immunizations, the state considers the child underinsured and we can use the state allotted vaccines at no cost to the family,” said Shari Kuther, RN, SMH Clinics Nursing Coordinator. “When a family has health insurance coverage we will bill the company. If the family has met their deductible we’ll be reimbursed, but if the family has not met their deductible they will be responsible for the payment and that payment will go towards their deductible.”
“We understand this is a cost savings for the state, but we sincerely hope it will not impact our immunization rates. It is extremely important for children to be immunized to prevent the spread of preventable diseases such as measles, polio, hepatitis and other infectious diseases,” said Kuther.
According to the IDHW website, childhood immunizations protect from 13 preventable diseases including diptheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, Hepatitis B, Influenzae type b (Hib), pneumococcal disease, Hepatitis A, Influenza and Varicella or chicken pox. By age two, children need to complete a series of seven immunizations which can be given at five visits to a health care provider.
Dr. Paul Offit, a speaker at an Idaho Shot Smarts workshop, said “Many of the diseases for which vaccinations are now routinely given during early childhood are rare in the Unites States because of the immunization programs developed in the last half century. While the US has seen dramatic drop-offs in the number of cases, the threat of reintroduction exists more today than ever due to a highly mobile world population.” Some diseases can be transported as people travel around the world, leaving unvaccinated children - in the U.S. and elsewhere - open to infection.
The complete recommended immunization schedule for children is available by calling the toll free Idaho Careline, 2-1-1 or by visiting the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s website, www.healthandwelfare.idaho.gov. Additional information on childhood immunizations is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, www.cdc.gov