How fear of surprise billing can fuel vaccine hesitancy

Some unvaccinated Americans are opting out of COVID-19 shots because they're worried about receiving a surprise bill, even though Congress has banned all pharmacies and healthcare providers from charging for COVID-19 vaccines, The New York Times reported June 1.

About a third of unvaccinated adults did not know whether insurance covered COVID-19 vaccines and were concerned that they may receive a bill for the shot, according to survey results released May 6 by the Kaiser Family Foundation. This concern was especially prevalent among Black and Latinx respondents, many of whom have become acclimated to a healthcare system in which large, unexpected medical bills are not uncommon.

"For someone who has incurred medical debt, they may be told by the media and everyone else that the vaccine is cost-free, but they’ve also had this very negative, prior encounter with the medical system that has created feelings of mistrust,"  Lucie Kalousova, PhD, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Riverside, told the Times.


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