Are We Discriminating?

As you have noticed in my posts about influenza vaccines, we split out insured children from Medicaid/CHIP children. One parent called in to tell us we were discriminating against insured children.

So I thought I would explain why we separate them out. We purchase vaccines from suppliers. Those vaccines are then given to our patients, and the vaccine charges are billed to the insurance company. Vaccines are very expensive; the charges for a typical well baby check are $300-400 in vaccines alone.

For that reason, the government has a special program called Vaccines For Children, or VFC. The government purchases vaccines for this program and distributes them through selected sites, which includes Southpoint. The government has strict rules about who we can give these vaccines to. They are only to be used for uninsured patients, children on Medicaid, children on CHIP, or Native Americans/Inuit. If we violate this policy we will not be able to participate in the program.

We often have discrepancies in the vaccines available for insured versus uninsured patients; usually our insured patients have all vaccines available, whereas our VFC-eligible patients often do not. It just happens that VFC sent us a recent shipment of seasonal flu vaccines, which we had been out of for several weeks. Our seasonal flu vaccine supply is gone, since we have given out almost 4,000 doses already this year. We are still working with suppliers to see if we can order more, but it is in very short supply nationwide.

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