How much does a flu shot cost?
We’ve heard everything from $9 and $12 to $17 and $30 and more.
Some people get free shots — on the job, at the church, from the village — while others pay out of pocket. Some people get a shot at the doctor’s office, with a full reimbursement from the insurance company; others get it at the drug store, or in another location.
This is the season — everywhere you look, it seems, there are signs: “Flu Shots Here.”
It’s an interesting pricing exercise: if the shots are all the same, or pretty much the same, then why the wide range in prices?
Is the flu shot like so many other medical procedures and items — with the wide range of prices reflecting who performs the service and the place where the procedure is performed, and not really reflecting a variation in quality?
We also guess that the flu-shot marketplace is one in which the charged price or sticker price (let’s say $36) is not exactly what the insurance company pays. And we also guess that the cash customer pays more, perhaps much more, than the insurance company or the government.
So we’re going to look around a bit and see what we can learn about the price of a flu shot: what is the range? what’s the cost? what factors affect the price and the cost (which, of course, are different — the cost being what it costs the provider to give the service, and the price being what’s charged).
We’ll also look to see what the payments are: in many cases, in the medical marketplace, the price, the cost and the payment vary widely.
For starters, here are a bunch of offers for discount flu shots from coupon and group-deal providers that we found by Googling around. What have you found?
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded ClearHealthCosts.
She was previously a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University School of Journalism. ClearHealthCosts has won grants from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York; the International Women’s Media Foundation; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC in Los Angeles; the Lenfest Foundation in Philadelphia for a partnership with The Philadelphia Inquirer; and the New York State Health Foundation for a partnership with WNYC public radio/Gothamist in New York; and other honors.
Her TED talk about fixing health costs has surpassed 2 million views.