The flu shot is a preventive care treatment for influenza, a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease for seniors and people with comorbidities. While many health insurance plans make you pay a co-pay for the flu shot if you have Medicare you can get it for free.
In this article, we’ll give you the complete answer to, “Does Medicare cover flu shots?” so you don’t pay a dime out of your own pocket.
The Importance of the Flu Shot
Some people do not get the flu shot because they don’t feel comfortable getting it or don’t feel that it’s important enough. You’ve likely heard, “There are too many strains of the flu for it to make a difference.” While that is true, the flu shot is actually very important. Here’s proof.
Flu Season (2020 & 2021) Fast Facts
- The flu vaccine prevented 7.5 million influenza illnesses.
- It prevented 3.7 million medical visits due to the flu.
- It prevented 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations.
- Most importantly, it prevented 6,300 influenza-associated deaths.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends anyone who is 65 years or older to get the flu shot from their health care provider. If you are a senior, you are at high risk for life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia, if you catch the flu virus. So, even though the annual flu shot may only protect you against the most common flu strains going around, it’s better than not getting the vaccine at all. Right?
If you suffer from immune system deficiencies or other medical conditions, such as heart disease or hepatitis B, be sure to get medical advice from your primary care physician before getting the flu shot.
Special Note for 2021: With the coronavirus pandemic, it’s even more crucial for seniors to get the flu vaccine. Many people have suffered from influenza and coronavirus simultaneously, and the outcome is often bleak.
The Cost of the Flu Shot
The out-of-pocket without insurance cost of the influenza immunization ranges from $20 to $70. Many pharmacies, such as Walgreens, advertise free flu shots, but that is with health insurance.
It is better to pay for the flu shot than not get it if someone is a senior without health insurance that covers it. However, most insurance companies cover the flu vaccination without copayments.
Does Medicare Pay for the Flu Shot?
The Medicare program is made up of four parts:
- Part A (hospital insurance)
- Part B (medical insurance)
- Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage plan)
- Medicare Part D Plan (prescription drug plan)
You can get the flu shot at different locations, including your doctor’s office and your local pharmacy — contact them for details. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, contact your plan for their instructions. Most places accept Medicare Advantage plans.
If you have Original Medicare, your Part B coverage, the medical insurance part of Medicare, pays for one flu shot per flu season. It’s one of Medicare’s preventative care benefits. And it’s free!
The only caveat on getting a free flu shot is that you can only get the flu shot from a qualified health care provider that accepts Medicare.
Medicare Advantage Plans and the Flu Shot
Medicare Advantage plans are required to pay for the flu shot 100%. This means that those with a Medicare Advantage plan have no deductible, copayments, or coinsurance.
Medicaid Coverage for Flu Shots
Medicaid is a state-run program, so each state has its own terms and conditions. Those who have Medicaid assistance can receive the seasonal flu shot for free.
Free Flu Shots Near Me with Medicare
In most cases, the easiest way to get a flu shot is to go to your local CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Publix, Walmart, Target, or Costco pharmacy, to name just a few. All major pharmacies accept Medicare Part B (for vaccinations) and Medicare Advantage plans. It’s quick and easy. You don’t even need to make an appointment.
Do You Have The Best Medicare Plan?
Ensure you can get annual flu shots as you grow older with a Medicare insurance plan that will cover them. An insurance agent can help you understand the different insurance companies and policies to choose from and know when the enrollment periods are so you can get the Medicare coverage you need without paying a penalty.
You can get additional information on Medicare.gov or reach out to us at MedicareWire for help navigating the complexities of the Medicare program. We specialize in helping people with Medicare, Medigap, and Medicare Advantage plans throughout the country.
Citations & References:
- Who Needs a Flu Vaccine and When | CDC
- Healthy Habits to Help Prevent Flu | CDC
- Influenza (Flu) | CDC
- Flu Shots Coverage
- Flu Shots Coverage
- Preventive Services | CMS
- Non-Emergency Medical Transportation | CMS
- Flu Shot | CMS
- Where to Go | Vaccines
- Flu (Influenza) | Vaccines
- Adults Age 65 and Older | Vaccines
- Health Records and Billing | In-store Clinics | Walgreens
- Medicare: Is the Flu Shot Covered? | Health Answers | Walgreens