Q&A – Why Publix Asks For Insurance For Vaccine Appointments

Today’s entry: I recently scheduled my Covid-19 vaccination at a nearby Publix store. I was still on the fence as to whether I would take the shot or not but I figured at least get scheduled. I could always back out before the needle goes in my arm.

To my surprise, I got a call from a lady who claimed she worked for Publix and needed to confirm my insurance information before coming in. I thought this was odd because the Covid-19 vaccination is supposed to be free. Then today another woman called again claiming she worked for Publix. The message she left said she needed to confirm my insurance information.

It quickly occurred to me that this is probably a scam being working by someone. How they got access to my request for vaccine, I can't say but whether they actually work for Publix or not is troublesome. If there is no charge for the vaccine, why do they need information on my insurance?

Bottom Line: Well, the good news is what you described isn’t a scam. What it is, is an attempt by Publix to derive revenue from participation in the vaccine distribution program. As you noted, there isn’t any direct cost to you, except as a taxpayer, as the federal government has covered the costs of the vaccines. Publix, nor any other administrator is being compensated by the state for participation in the program either, as Governor DeSantis articulated earlier this week. That’s where your question enters into the equation. 

Just as standard insurance plans, along with Medicare and Medicaid, cover the costs of a traditional flu vaccine, they're also willing to cover the costs of a COVID-19 vaccination. When you signed up for your Publix appointment, they would have provided you with information with guidance regarding this. Specifically, this notification which speaks to their intent to obtain your insurance information as part of the vaccination, "To expedite your experience, please don't forget to bring your driver's license and insurance card. Please check in with a Publix associate when you get to the store. Face coverings are required for customers at all Publix locations". 

Instead of waiting to verify insurance info at the time of your appointment, Publix has commonly called in advance to verify. If you already have information on file, they’ll match it to your appointment. If you don’t, they’ll ask for the provider and account ID. 

There isn’t any obligation to have insurance or to provide the information to the administrator, whether it’s Publix or anyone else. However, with the hard cost of the administration of the vaccines it’s understandable and in my view reasonable for them to seek to reimbursement/revenue from an insurance provider when one is available. Now, as an extra layer of security to ensure you’re not being scammed when you receive a call, ask the associate when and where your appointment is. 

For what it’s worth category, I received the front-end of the Moderna vaccine from Publix yesterday and it was easy-peezy- smooth as could be. 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods. 


Parler & Twitter:@brianmuddradio 

Photo by: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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