Shouldering vaccination costs

August 1, 2007

All of us pediatricians (and family practitioners) are struggling with the burden of vaccine inventory expense and "iffy" to negligible reimbursement. Recently, I've tried a new approach to remedy this situation.

As I explain the benefits, risks, and cost factor (read 800 lb. insurance gorilla) to the parents, I mention how we can solve this dilemma. After I proceed with current problems, preventive care, and concerns the family has brought to the well-child care (WCC) visit, I ask the mother or father if they have brought their child's insurance card.

As I begin my physical exam, I give the desk telephone to the parent. I then instruct them, while I'm performing the exam, to call the 800 number of their insurance company and ask for member benefits. The parents proceed to course through the 1s and 2s of the keypad until the correct person is on the line. I've already given, in this example, the written name of the vaccines and their five-digit codes to the parent. In a matter of time, the acceptance (or denial) is known. I've written this data on the chart and the vaccines, with my reimbursement, is assured.

Lawrence RosenbergMD, FAAPJohnstown, PA