Shingles vaccine protects seniors and is covered by Medicare

Jim Miller answers a reader's question about the reasons for getting a shingles vaccine.
BY JIM MILLER For The Oklahoman Modified: August 13, 2013 at 2:01 pm •  Published: August 13, 2013
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The vaccine is also safe. For most people, the worst side effect is mild redness or arm soreness.

You also need to know that Medicare covers the shingles vaccine as one of its preventive benefits. But, unlike some other vaccines that are paid through Part B, the shingles vaccination is covered by Part D.

If you have a Part D prescription drug plan, it will pay for the vaccine itself and for your doctor or other health care provider to give you the shot. You are only responsible for paying the plan's approved copay at the time you get vaccinated, which usually runs around $60 to $80.

But, you need to make sure you follow your plan's rules in order to keep your out-of-pocket costs down.

If you're vaccinated at a drugstore, check to make certain it's in your Part D plan pharmacy network. Otherwise, the shot will cost you more than your usual copay.

If you're inoculated in a doctor's office, check to make sure the office can bill your plan or at least can work through a drugstore in your plan's network. Otherwise, you'll have to pay the entire bill upfront and then claim reimbursement from your plan.

Just to be safe, call your Part D drug plan ahead of time and ask which pharmacies and doctors in your area you can use to receive the shingles vaccine at the plan's regular copay.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC's “Today” show, KFOR-4 and is author of “The Savvy Senior” book.