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Valley patients receiving bills for COVID-19 vaccine after pop-up event

Virus Outbreak Vaccine Refusal
Posted at 3:38 PM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 23:28:43-04

GLENDALE, AZ — ABC15 is hearing from viewers who are being billed after getting the COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up event in Glendale.

At the end of March, SIPMD provided a pop-up event at Glendale Community College that was sponsored by Maricopa County Public Health. SIPMD was in charge of administering the vaccines to thousands of people.

Diane Jensen tells ABC15 that she received the COVID-19 vaccine at the event after seeing ABC15 cover the event.

Jensen shared her bill that shows she was billed for an office visit as a new patient. Insurance paying a portion of the bill, and Jensen was left with a $20 bill.

“It was done in a parking lot, it was a pop-up event for a week to go get the vaccine, given by volunteers. Why are they charging me for this office visit?” Jensen questioned.

Jensen said she has tried reaching out to the medical provider and the billing company with no immediate response.

She said she’s not worried about paying the twenty dollars, it’s the fact that she knows that she should not be charged for the vaccine.

According to the CDC, they have information warning about scams and how consumers are not to be charged.

"If anyone asks you to pay for access to a COVID-19 vaccine, you can bet it’s a scam. Don’t share your personal or financial information if someone calls, texts, or emails you promising access to a vaccine for an extra fee.

COVID-19 vaccination providers cannot:

  • Charge you for a vaccine
  • Charge you directly for any administration fees, copays, or coinsurance
  • Deny vaccination to anyone who does not have health insurance coverage, is underinsured, or is out of network
  • Charge an office visit or other fee to the recipient if the only service provided is a COVID-19 vaccination
  • Require additional services in order for a person to receive a COVID-19 vaccine; however, additional healthcare services can be provided at the same time and billed as appropriate

COVID-19 vaccination providers can:

  • Seek appropriate reimbursement from the recipient’s plan or program (e.g., private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid) for a vaccine administration fee
    • However, providers cannot charge the vaccine recipient the balance of the bill.
  • Seek appropriate reimbursement for uninsured vaccine recipients from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s COVID-19 Uninsured Program."

ABC15 reached out to SIPMD on Thursday and didn’t hear back, but on Friday we received a call from a lawyer representing the company.

The lawyer for SIPMD said these bills were sent in error, and they’re trying to do an audit to see how many patients were billed incorrectly.

That lawyer said the bills were sent incorrectly because they recently switched to a new third-party billing company.

A spokesperson with Maricopa County Health said if you have been billed, you can reach out to them.

That CARE Team can be reached at 602-506-6767.