I have forgotten the state capitals, but one intact memory of elementary school in Bethesda, Maryland is lining up to get shots (vaccines?) from some sort of “gun”. These were administered roughly every 15 seconds either by the school nurse or a county health worker. It went so fast that I wonder if we were all effectively sharing one needle (HIV and hepatitis were not concerns for schoolchildren circa 1970).
The other day I was waiting for a friend at CVS so decided to use the time to get my “free” (i.e., included in my $ 10,000/year Obamacare policy) flu shot. Ten minutes later my friend showed up. It took roughly another ten minutes before the shot was “ready.” It turned out that three health care professionals had to process various forms on a computer screen, get a one-page questionnaire from me, and finally deliver the shot with a simple needle (less than one minute). A licensed pharmacist was required as part of the paperwork pipeline.
Here’s what I got in hardcopy:
- Two-page document regarding the vaccine (Flucelvax Quad). It says “This is an OFF-WHITE SYRINGE.”
- CVS Health Notice of Privacy Practices, a two-page document in 6 pt type. It is a paper copy that, among other things, says “You have the right to obtain a paper copy of our current Notice at any time.” It also says what will happen if I am or become “an inmate of a correctional institution.”
- A five-page “Vaccine Information Statement” that discusses the side effects (overlaps to some extent with Document #1)
- A Vaccine Consent and Administration Record
- A three-foot-long receipt for $ 0.00 (coupons following)
- A $ 5 off any $ 25 purchase special coupon specific to having gotten a “free” flu shot (i.e., for giving CVS the opportunity to bill the health insurer)
Is there now this much paperwork and process attached to what was, in my youth, a 15-second paperwork-free experience?
[I posted a shorter version of the above on Facebook and it generated the predictable encomiums about the wisdom of Obamacare requiring insurance companies to pay for flu shots:
I think the insurance companies cover shots as a preventative measure, hoping we won’t incur more healthcare expenses related to the flu we’d contract if we didn’t take the shot.
It should be free and universal. That will save the most money, and the evidence for that is stone-cold solid.
In other words, the central planners working for the government are smarter than the actuaries who work at insurers, which didn’t previously pay for flu shots. I decided to poke at this assumption a bit with “If it made actuarial sense to do this, why wouldn’t the UK bureaucrats be smart enough to figure it out? They don’t offer free flu shots to everyone. (source) Are the U.S. central planners smarter than the UK ones who’ve been doing it for decades?” That proved to be an impossible conundrum!]