How Does Your Medicare Deductible Affect Your Vaccine Costs
The deductible amount of your Medicare plan affects how much you pay out of pocket before your insurer starts contributing to the cost of your prescription drugs. Depending on how many medications you take, the deductible could affect how much you spend on the vaccine. Let’s compare how much you’d pay for the shingles vaccine on two plans with different deductibles.
Scenario: Shingrix is the only medication needed during the policy
|AARP MedicareRx Walgreens|
|Cost of two doses of Shingrix vaccine||$160 each for a total of $320 because the deductible hasn’t been met||$45 copay each for a total of $90|
|Total annual cost of premiums and shingles vaccine||$788||$1,122|
In the example above, the AARP MedicareRx Walgreens prescription drug plan has a $455 deductible for Tier 3 drugs like the shingles vaccine. That means if you haven’t already met your deductible, you would pay full price for the vaccine, which would be $320 for two doses. The plan costs $38.60 per month for someone living in Charlotte. If the shingles vaccine is the only Tier 3, 4, or 5 drug needed during the policy year, your total annual spending would be $788.
In this situation, the person with the MedicareRx Walgreens plan pays less overall, even though they’re paying full price for the shingles vaccine.
Find Medicare Advantage Coverage For The Shingles Vaccine
Contact a licensed insurance agent today to find out if a Medicare Advantage plan is available where you live that will cover the shingles vaccine.
Find Medicare plans that cover the shingles vaccine
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1 Umansky, Diane. The New Shingles Vaccine: What You Should Know About Shingrix. . Consumer Reports. Retrieved from www.consumerreports.org/shingles-vaccine/new-shingles-vaccine-shingrix-what-you-should-know.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shingles Vaccination. . Retrieved from www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/shingles/public/shingrix/index.html.
About the author
Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.
His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.
Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelors degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.
Where you’ve seen coverage of Christian’s research and reports:
Plan availability varies by region and state. For a complete list of available plans, please contact 1-800-MEDICARE , 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov.
Can You Get Shingles If You Had The Chickenpox Vaccine
It depends. Anyone who has ever had chickenpox is susceptible to shingles. When the chickenpox virus comes out of hiding and reactivates, it causes numbness, tingling, blisters, and sometimes flu-like symptoms. If you never had chickenpox because you were vaccinated, you run a very low risk of getting shingles.
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How Does Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine
Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, does not cover the shingles vaccination but Medicare Part D does. To get this covered, you must enroll in either a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage . You may have a copayment for the shingles vaccine.
Whats The Cost Of The Shingles Vaccine
According to GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturer of Shingrix, the two-shot series costs people with Medicare Part D an average of $50 per shot.15
As of May 2020, discount-coupon company GoodRx lists Shingrix at around $151, which is 19% off its reported average retail price of $188.49.16 It indicates that Medicare plans list Shingrix typically in Tier 3 of their formulary. 17 GoodRx lists Zostavax at prices as low as $218.17.18
Ultimately, how much your vaccine costs depends on the Medicare prescription plan or Medicare Advantage plan you choose, the vaccine you get and the pharmacy or doctors office where you have it administered.
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Does Medicare Pay For Shingles Shots
Heres the quick answer
Surprisingly, Original Medicare doesnt cover the shingles vaccine, even though it covers other vaccines like the flu vaccine and pneumonia shot.
On the other hand, Medicare Part Dor a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part D coveragetypically does cover the vaccine.
The devil is in the details
Every Part D plan is different, so your copay for a shingles vaccine could vary from one insurance plan to another. For this reason, its always good to check your plans formulary to see which vaccines they cover and which tier those medications fall under.
Part D covers a lot more than the shingles vaccine, providing coverage for prescription medications. If you need the shingles vaccine and prescription drug coverage, see our guide on how to find the best Part D plan for you, orlearn more about Part D first.
Who Should Get Shingrix
Healthy adults 50 years and older should get two doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months. You should get Shingrix even if in the past you
- had shingles
- are not sure if you had chickenpox
There is no maximum age for getting Shingrix.
If you had shingles in the past, you can get Shingrix to help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific length of time that you need to wait after having shingles before you can receive Shingrix, but generally you should make sure the shingles rash has gone away before getting vaccinated.
You can get Shingrix whether or not you remember having had chickenpox in the past. Studies show that more than 99% of Americans 40 years and older have had chickenpox, even if they dont remember having the disease. Chickenpox and shingles are related because they are caused by the same virus . After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in the body. It can reactivate years later and cause shingles.
Shingrix is available in doctors offices and pharmacies. To find doctors offices or pharmacies near you that offer the vaccine, visit HealthMap Vaccine Finderexternal icon.
If you have questions about Shingrix, talk with your healthcare provider.
* A shingles vaccine called Zostavax is no longer available for use in the United States, as of November 18, 2020. If you had Zostavax in the past, you should still get Shingrix. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best time to get Shingrix.
What Shingles Vaccines Are Available
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , there are 2 vaccines licensed and recommended to prevent shingles in the U.S.: Shingrix and Zostavax.2 The CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get 2 doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months, to prevent shingles and the complications from the disease.3
Why Doesn’t Medicare Cover The Shingles Vaccine As Free For All Seniors
Many people think that a vaccine that’s recommended by the CDC for those over age 50 would be fully covered by Original Medicare. However, there are a few reasons why you may end up paying hundreds of dollars for the two-dose regimen.
- Medicare coverage levels: Some Medicare drug plans have better cost-sharing benefits than others, and how much you pay for the shingles vaccine will depend on the plan you choose.
- Pharmaceutical classification: Medicare classifies the Shingrix vaccine as a part of its pharmaceutical coverage, meaning it would fall under Medicare Part D coverage rather than Part A or Part B. In contrast, most private health insurance, either through an employer or through the marketplace, classifies the shingles vaccine as a part of its free preventative coverage.
- Type of pharmaceutical: Shingrix is a Tier 3 drug made by GlaxoSmithKline, and there isn’t a generic alternative. This could mean that your out-of-pocket costs are higher than other medications.
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Is The Shingles Vaccine Covered By Medicare And Can I Get It At Cvs
Because the shingles vaccine requires two doses, if you have to pay full price around $400 total it may approach the $445 maximum Part D deductible that Medicare allows for 2021.
If thats the case, you may want to consider getting your vaccine early in the year. This way you dont have to worry about your deductible resetting in a new plan year soon after meeting it. You should discuss the risks and benefits of this strategy with your healthcare provider.
As far as going to CVS Pharmacy or CVS in Target to get your shingles vaccine, this is definitely an option. You can always call ahead or go online to schedule same-day appointments, or go in on a walk-in basis at many locations.
Is The Shingles Shot Free For Seniors
The shingles vaccine is not free for all seniors, and how much you pay will depend on your Medicare Part D plan or with your Medicare Advantage prescription drug benefits. Seniors who don’t have a prescription drug plan will have to pay full price for the shingles vaccine or use a cost-saving method to get the vaccine at a discounted price.
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Medicare May Not Provide Good Coverage For This Vital Protection
If you’re covered by Medicare, you may feel the pain of a shingles shot more in your wallet than in your arm.
That’s because the federal program that insures most seniors in the U.S. provides poor coverage for some recommended vaccines, including shingles, and could leave some people paying $200 or more for protection.
Shingles is a viral infection that often causes a painful, blistering rash and, in some cases, leads to lingering nerve pain and, in rare cases, even blindness.
The vaccine isn’t foolproof, but for people aged 60 and older it reduces the risk of getting shingles by about 51 percent and, if you do get shingles, reduces the nerve pain it causes by close to 70 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What Is The Cost Of The Shingles Vaccine With Medicare Part D
Since every insurance plan is different, each Part D plan provides varying degrees of coverage for the shingles vaccine. Some plans may place the vaccine in Tier 1 while others may put it under Tier 3 . Some plans may also have a deductible, meaning 100% of your vaccination or drug costs are on you until you meet the dollar amount specified by your insurance plan.
The best way to know how much a shingles vaccine may cost you is to call your insurance provider and ask.
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When Should I See A Doctor Because Of The Side Effects I Experience From Shingrix
In clinical trials, Shingrix was not associated with serious adverse events. In fact, serious side effects from vaccines are extremely rare. For example, for every 1 million doses of a vaccine given, only one or two people may have a severe allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction happen within minutes or hours after vaccination and include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness. If you experience these or any other life-threatening symptoms, see a doctor right away.
Shingrix causes a strong response in your immune system, so it may produce short-term side effects more intense than you are used to from other vaccines. These side effects can be uncomfortable, but they are expected and usually go away on their own in 2 or 3 days.
Coverage For The Shingles Vaccine
by Patricia Barry, AARP Bulletin
Q. Does Medicare cover the shingles vaccine?
A. Yes, but not in the way you might expect.
Other common vaccines are covered under Medicare Part B. In other words, you get them in a doctors office, then the doctor bills Medicare andin the case of flu and pneumonia shotsMedicare picks up the full tab.
But the shingles vaccine is covered under the Part D prescription drug program. That means you must be enrolled in a private Part D plan , get the vaccine through your plan and pay whatever share of the cost that your plan requires.
You shouldnt have any problem obtaining the shingles vaccine through your drug plan. Under Medicare regulations, all Part D plans must cover it.
But there are some pitfalls to watch out for in terms of paying for the shingles shot, depending on where you receive it:
* If youre vaccinated at a pharmacy, make sure its one that is in your Part D plans pharmacy network. Otherwise, the shot will cost you more than the plans normal copayment, perhaps even full price.
* If youre vaccinated in a doctors office, make sure the doctor can bill your plan directly through its computer billing process, or can work through a pharmacy in your plans network that can also bill the plan directly. Otherwise, youll have to pay the entire bill upfront and then claim reimbursement from your plan.
Patricia Barry is a senior editor at the AARP Bulletin.
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Shingles Vaccine Protects Seniors And Is Covered By Medicare
Syndicated columnist, NBC Today contributor and creator of SavvySenior.org
Dear Savvy Senior,
What can you tell me about the shingles vaccine? I just turned 65 and have been thinking about getting vaccinated, but would like to know how effective it is and how it’s covered by Medicare.
–Afraid of Needles
Older adults who get the shingles vaccine can actually cut their risk of getting the painful condition in half, and those that do happen to get it are likely to have a milder case if they’ve been inoculated. Here’s what else you should know about the shingles vaccine, along with how it’s covered by Medicare.
Shingles Overview Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a burning, blistering, often excruciating skin rash that affects about 1 million Americans each year. The same virus that causes chickenpox causes it. What happens is the chickenpox virus that most people get as kids never leaves the body. It hides in the nerve cells near the spinal cord and, for some people, emerges later in the form of shingles.
In the U.S., one out of every three people will develop shingles during their lifetime. While anyone who’s had chickenpox can get shingles, it most commonly occurs in people over age 60, along with people who have weakened immune systems. But you can’t catch shingles from someone else.
In addition to the rash, more than one-third who get shingles go on to develop severe nerve pain that can last for months or even years.
How Much Does The Shingles Shot Cost
There is currently only one shingles vaccine available in the United States, sold under the brand name Shingrix. An older shingles vaccine called Zostavax was taken off the market in November 2020.
Shingrix is delivered in two shots. Without insurance, each shot retails for around $202 for a total of $404, according to GoodRX in 2021. Discounts can lower that cost by nearly $50 per shot.
Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans may cover most of the cost of the Shingrix vaccine, but you could have out-of-pocket costs for both the shot and your doctor visits.
Before getting the vaccine, check with your plans administrator to make sure your policy covers the shingles shot.
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Are There Other Vaccines Besides Zostavax That Help Prevent Shingles
Shingrix is another vaccine that is aimed to prevent a person from experiencing shingles.
The CDC states that Shingrix is the preferred drug over Zostavax. CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older should get two doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months, to best fight off the Shingles illness.11
According to CDC:
- two doses of Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles, and
- protection stays above 85% for at least the first four years after a patient gets vaccinated.12
In one trial that involved more than 15,000 patients , Shingrixs efficacy for preventing Shingles was greater than 95%.13 In a companion trial that included almost 14,000 patients , efficacy was about 90%.14
What Steps Can You Take To Make Sure You Are Covered If You Have Medicare Advantage With Drug Coverage Or Medicare Part D
If you already have Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part D, contact your provider to check your coverage. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private companies that Medicare approves.
If you are not yet on Medicare and want to find a plan that covers the shingles shot, you can use Medicares Find a Medicare Plan tool. This tool allows you to compare Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.
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How Well Does Zostavax Work
Zostavax®, the shingles vaccine, reduced the risk of shingles by 51% and the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia by 67% based on a large study of more than 38,000 adults aged 60 years or older. Protection from shingles vaccine lasts about 5 years.
While the vaccine was most effective in people 60 through 69 years old, it also provides some protection for people 70 years old and older.
Adults vaccinated before age 60 years might not be protected later in life when the risk for shingles and its complications are greatest.
What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Shingrix
Studies show that Shingrix is safe. The vaccine helps your body create a strong defense against shingles. As a result, you are likely to have temporary side effects from getting the shots. The side effects may affect your ability to do normal daily activities for 2 to 3 days.
Most people got a sore arm with mild or moderate pain after getting Shingrix, and some also had redness and swelling where they got the shot. Some people felt tired, had muscle pain, a headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea. About 1 out of 6 people who got Shingrix experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities. Symptoms went away on their own in about 2 to 3 days. Side effects were more common in younger people.
You might have a reaction to the first or second dose of Shingrix, or both doses. If you experience side effects, you may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
If you experience side effects from Shingrix, you should report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System . Your doctor might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS websiteexternal icon, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.
If you have any questions about side effects from Shingrix, talk with your doctor.
The shingles vaccine does not contain thimerosal .