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Insurers say they'll waive fees for H1N1 vaccine

October 7, 2009 | 12:11 pm

A number of large health maintenance organizations and insurers in California have agreed to not charge co-payments or deductibles for vaccinating patients for the H1N1 flu.

State regulators said they obtained agreements from the companies to waive all charges for administering the vaccine, which is provided free by the federal government.

"The likelihood that some health insurers would charge some administrative fee for the vaccine was very, very high," state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner said in a conference call. "Given the contagious nature of the H1N1, I wanted to make sure that didn't happen."

Those co-payment fees could have run as high as $40, Poizner said.

Poizner said he received assurances from the state's six largest health insurers -- Aetna, Anthem/Blue Cross, Blue Shield, CIGNA, HealthNet and United HealthCare/PacifiCare -- to waive administrative fees for giving shots and nasal sprays with the H1N1 vaccine.

The California Department of Managed Health Care said it received similar assurances from HMOs.

-- Marc Lifsher and Lisa Girion