Vaccine costs hit primary care

Costs May Cause Some Docs to Quit Offering Vaccines says David Mitchell at AAFP News Now:

According to the study, which was published last month in the journal Pediatrics, 5 percent of pediatricians and 21 percent of family physicians polled reported that they had seriously considered not offering the recommended childhood vaccines.

FP Kathy Saradarian, M.D., of Branchville, N.J., told AAFP News Now that she has limited her practice to patients 5 years of age and older largely because of these very cost concerns. She said she no longer stocks many of the most commonly administered pediatric vaccines — such as the diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis and polio vaccine and the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine — because she simply can’t afford to keep offering them.

“I was probably breaking even on vaccines,” she said. “I know that in my previous practice, we found there were vaccines we were getting paid less than cost, and when we appealed, we were told that the administration fee made up the difference.

“Part of the problem is that you have to buy, say, 10 MMRs,” Saradarian explained, “and if I don’t have 10 12- to 15-month-olds or 4- to 6-year-olds in my practice, I won’t use them before expiration.”

I have the same problem in my practice.  I’ve actually told parents who wanted me to be their kid’s doctor that I’d suggest sticking with their current pediatrician until the kid’s vaccinations are completed.  This is a problem that the health care profession, the government, insurers, and the general public should take seriously.  In Britain, vaccination rates dropped due to concern about an unfounded link between the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine and autism.  When vaccination levels drop, whether it’s because of fear of imaginary complications or because physicians cannot afford to stock the vaccine, the number of cases of the diseases that are no longer being vaccinated against go up.  And they go up fast.  Look at what happened with measles in Britain due to lowered rates of vaccination:

Britain Annual Measle Cases


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