Biden administration prepares to shift COVID vaccine costs to insurers

The Biden administration is preparing to stop paying for COVID-19 vaccines and other treatments, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

>> Read more trending news

While it was always the plan to transition from the federal government paying for COVID-19 treatment to insurers paying for it, the administration points to a downturn in cases as the reason to begin making the move.

“We’ve known at some point we’d need to move over into the commercial market, and we’re approaching that time now,” Dawn O’Connell, assistant U.S. health secretary for preparedness and response told the Journal.

According to the Journal, officials say the transition could take months.

The administration has announced they will make a push for Americans to get a vaccination in September when the more encompassing boosters from Moderna and Pfizer are released.

Some worry that the ability to get a fair price on the vaccine will be compromised if the federal government is not doing the negotiating.

Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said insurers that have to start paying for the vaccines will likely be raising premiums.

“Without the government purchasing vaccine doses in advance, the U.S. may fall behind other countries in getting quick access to boosters and new variant-specific vaccines,” Levitt said.

White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said on Tuesday he hoped that by before 2023 the federal government would not be paying for vaccines or tests.

“One of the things we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about in the last many months -- and we’re going to continue this work, and you’ll hear more from the administration on this -- is getting us out of that acute emergency phase where the US government is buying the vaccines, buying the treatments, buying the diagnostic tests,” Jha said at an event sponsored by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

“My hope is that in 2023, you’re going to see the commercialization of almost all of these products. Some of that is actually going to begin this fall, in the days and weeks ahead. You’re going to see commercialization of some of these things,” he said.

The Department of Health and Human Services will hold a planning session on Aug. 30 that will include drugmakers, pharmacies and state public health officials.