Medicare, Blue Cross push incentives to spur vaccination rates
Medicare on Wednesday promised providers new incentives for vaccinating homebound beneficiaries.
The move comes as part of a broader effort to increase access to vaccines prior to President Joe Biden’s July 4 goal of having 70% of the population fully vaccinated.
While Medicare previously paid $40 per at-home vaccination, CMS will now pay $75 per dose.
“We’re acting today to expand the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine to people with Medicare at home,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-Lasure said.
The White House previously offered tax incentives to small businesses for paid employee leave to get vaccinated
Major insurers like Blue Cross and Blue Shield are also experimenting with incentives to boost vaccination rates. As of Monday only 42% of the country is fully vaccinated.
Providers have had particular difficulties reaching individuals who can’t leave their home, which has hindered vaccination rates. Insufficient reimbursement rates, a lack of supply and or resources, and the need to store vials at a certain temperature impeded care delivery throughout the pandemic.
About 1.6 million adults aged 65 and older reported difficulty accessing the vaccine due to an inability to leave home, according to the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation. Data showed Hispanic adults are disproportionately affected, with nearly five times more seniors homebound than their white counterparts.
Blue Cross offered pay incentives to eligible members in their Federal Employee Program. Adults in the program can receive $50 for showing proof of vaccination, starting June 11. The money can be used for qualified medical expenses.
But, there’s a lot of ground to cover before any of these programs can make a dent in Biden’s goal. Vaccination rates in many southern states are still below 40%, while Northeast states are nearing 60% and 70%. Over 90 million more people need to be vaccinated for the country to reach potential herd immunity.