*Disclaimer: I realize the subject of immunizing your child is quite the heated debate these days. This article states my strong opinions about certain things, and my intention is not to offend anyone. I'm simply relaying my story and I hope you realize we are all entitled to our own opinions!
My baby turned 6 months old about a month ago. Any mom knows what that means...SHOTS. Lots of shots.
(I, personally, feel that immunizing your baby is very important. Immunizations were created to prevent death and protect us all from harmful diseases. I know some people don't agree, but that's my stance!)
Remember my post about asking? Have you ever asked what immunizations cost?
A LOT!Immunizations can be very expensive, especially when given in a doctor's office. I was able to save about $480 on his immunizations!!!
Here's the story:
With my new insurance my baby's preventative benefits for the year ran out in his first visit. This means that my insurance will cover nothing, unless he gets sick or injured. No wellness visits, shots, nada.
Prior to his 6 month appointment I called my doctor's office and asked the secretary if there were any discounts she could give me on his upcoming visit. She said she'd give me a discount if I paid in full at the time of visit. I thanked her, but I wanted more options. She transferred me back to the nurse to talk about cost.
I explained to the nurse that my husband is self-employed, we don't make a lot of money, and our insurance won't pay for wellness visits for the rest of the year.
I said, "I really want to use your office but I won't be able to afford it. Is there anything you can do to help me out?"(This is a GREAT question to use, by the way!!)
She said I could work out a payment plan, offered the same discount the secretary offered, and said that's all she could do for me. (Hey, at least I tried, right?) She put me on hold while she added up the expected cost of the 6 immunizations that he would receive.
The grand total?
I almost fainted.
She said, "Yea, and that's just for the medicine. That doesn't include anything else."
She described a program to assist people with no insurance. It brings the cost of the immunizations down to about $15 each. "But that wouldn't help you because you have insurance."
(Just for the record, how unfair is that? I'm doing what I'm supposed to and protecting my family with insurance, and the ones who are getting help are those that show up, get treated, and expect not to pay! So frustrating.)
She recommended I call a local health clinic to get better pricing on his shots.
So I did! I googled the Salt Lake health department, got the number and called. The lady said to come in, and depending on my circumstances, the immunizations could be as low as $10 each. Now that's more like it.
I went in (no appointments, walk-in only), and got helped immediately. The place was clean and well-staffed. I explained my situation to the receptionist "...I have insurance, but his preventative care ran out...too expensive in the doctor's office...was referred to you."
She took my insurance card and informed me, "we aren't contracted with this insurance company, so I'm sorry but we can't bill through them."
I said, "It's ok, it doesn't matter anyway because my preventative max has been met."
She took out a price list and added up the immunization prices. $38...$69...$102...they added up quick. While it was cheaper than my doctor's office, it still added up to roughly $400-something. I couldn't believe it. I asked a few questions:
- Is there anything you can do about that price? ("No, that is simply what they cost")
- Are there any other options? ("You could go to your pediatrician instead")
- Do you offer payment plans? ("Yes, you pay what you can today then the rest is required in 30 days")
I was distressed. $400 for immunizations was still way out of my price range. I explained my situation to her in detail, just like I had to my nurse earlier. "My husband is self-employed...don't bring home much money...yes, we have insurance but they won't cover shots any more..."
She stopped me and said,
"Ok wait, so your insurance doesn't pay for immunizations?"
"No, not for another year."
"Well that's another story then. What is your gross household income?"
She asked me a few more financial questions, took out her calculator, and said:
"Based on your circumstances we can give you these immunizations for $10 each. Since some of the shots are combo shots, your total today will be $40."
$40??? TOTAL??? I almost kissed her.
I've never been so relieved in my entire life. The nurse was amazing that treated my son, and we were in and out in no time. They even gave us a free book from their children's library.
So, here is the summary of what I learned; how to get cheaper immunizations:
- Get creative. You don't always have to get shots from your pediatrician's office - they always charge the most.
- Ask price. Never be embarrassed. Price shop doctors, clinics, locations, everything!
- Take advantage of county/city/state health clinics! I had a great experience at mine. You can get great, affordable care there.
- Ask, ask, ask. Ask lots of questions. Had I not asked so many questions to the secretary, nurse, and health clinic lady, I never would have saved so much.
- Be honest about your situation. While I'm sure that our tight financial situation is temporary, it's still tight. If you are a student, self-employed, or recently laid off, there are lots of programs out there to help you keep your family safe and healthy, affordably. Be honest with yourself and ask for help, and be honest with the programs - don't exaggerate or take advantage. That's just mean.
The conclusion of my story is that now my baby is healthy and immunized, and we didn't have to go into debt for it. His next appointment is his 9 month appointment. No shots are needed, so I will be taking him into his doctor to get his wellness exam like normal. I do feel that it's important for him to be checked out by his doc once in a while, just to make sure he's growing like he should.
So that's it! Give health clinics a try!
Good luck to you in getting more affordable immunizations!
Happy savings - and health - to you :)