As more Arizonans get vaccinated against COVID-19, there are growing questions about costs and fees.
The vaccine should be free, but more people are saying they had to pay anyway.
"If it hadn't been for watching your show on TV, I wouldn't have known," says Valley resident Tom Bybee.
"I nearly fell off my chair because i was totally shocked," says Karen Adamski in that first story.
Adamski and her husband went to a MY DR NOW clinic in San Tan Valley and thought their vaccines were free. But their Medicare statement showed their insurer was charged around $300 for each vaccine.
And while they haven't received a bill yet, they wonder if they'll be responsible for the unpaid amount.
That would mean around $1,200 for four shots.
The government allows providers to charge insurers a minimal administration fee. Medicare pays just $40 a shot. But if you're only there for the vaccine, no costs should be passed on to you.
After airing Karen's story earlier in April, a MY DR NOW spokesperson said they follow government guidelines and "prohibit" billing patients for costs insurers won't pick up. Bybee has a different story.
He says he and his wife got vaccines from the same MY DR NOW location. Then he says he got a call.
"They said they're trying to collect the bill that you owe," Bybee recalls.
He then says he received a bill from MY DR NOW.
It shows close to $500 charged to their insurance companies for the two vaccine shots. And they were responsible for the remaining balance of $154.20.
"I was about ready to pay it. I didn't know until I watched your show," Bybee says.
Ann also saw our first story.
She sent an email saying she too went to the San Tan Valley MY DR NOW location and got her vaccine.
Ann says when she told them she didn't have insurance, "they charged me $100."
Her payment receipt even states, "First dose for COVID-19 vaccine."
Ann says she only learned about the fee in the office, "and after waiting months to get the vaccine, I felt like I had no choice but to pay."
Since MY DR NOW told me they don't charge for vaccines, I went back to them about these two people who say otherwise.
In a statement to the Let Joe Know team, MY DR NOW Chief Operations Officer Stephanie Cook says they vaccinated nearly 20,000 people and "so far confirmed 8 incidents where a patient was inadvertently billed due to an automated systems error."
Cook says they created a system "to prevent this from happening again," and "balances identified were immediately adjusted off."
After we contacted MY DR NOW about the charges, Ann got a refund of her $100 payment.
They also contacted Bybee and said he owed nothing.
He hopes the same thing is happening for all the other people he saw getting vaccinated at the packed clinic.
"It's scary if they're doing that to a lot of people. I just don't think that's right," he says.
If you received a vaccine and had to pay a fee, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is MY DR NOW's full statement:
As the impact of the pandemic raged on, a request was made for MY DR NOW to help vaccinate members of the Pinal County community.
Identifying the call to serve, MY DR NOW formed a rapid response team and hired additional providers, medical assistants and front office staff, many of whom have volunteered to work overtime, in order to serve our community during this time of need.
Changes were made to our workflow in order to deviate from our standard administrative processes and avoid billing patients for outstanding balances related to the COVID vaccine.
Thus far, we have been able to vaccinate close to 20,000 patients and we are disheartened to have so far confirmed 8 incidents where a patient was inadvertently billed due to an Automated Systems Error.
Although we have maintained a 99.93% success rate, we do recognize that there is always room for improvement, and we have created a multi-step manual review process to prevent this from happening again.
The balances identified were immediately adjusted off and we ask any patient who believes they were impacted by this oversight to email us directly at REMEDY@MYDRNOW.com for resolution.
We apologize for any inconvenience and, as always, we are grateful for our patients who have granted us the privilege to participate in their care.