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COVID-19 Vaccine Price Tags Set to Soar

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Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. have indicated that they are going to price their shots at between $110 and $130. The shots should still be free to individuals because of rules barring out-of-pocket costs for such vaccinations.

So far, the federal government has been the only paying customer for COVID-19 vaccines. But that is about to end, and prices of the shots are about to soar five- to sixfold.

The price the federal government has been paying for the COVID-19 shots has been inching up, but average price for all shots purchased by the government from Pfizer and Moderna comes out to $20.69, according to calculations by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Individuals with insurance or who are covered by Medicare or Medicaid will be insulated from the price hikes because of a variety laws and related rules barring out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 vaccination. But insurers and government payers will be shouldering the additional costs associated with the higher price — and that could mean higher premiums.

Using slightly lower prices than the $110 to $130 range suggested by Pfizer and Moderna, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that if half of the adults in the U.S. (129 million) received one dose of a vaccine at the new higher prices, the total cost will be between $12.4 billion and $14.8 billion. Those amounts are about half of what the federal government spent buying 1.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine from July 2020 through July 2022, according to Kaiser’s figures.

Some lawmakers have objected to the price hikes. In letter last year to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and then Sen.-elect Peter Welch of Vermont noted that the company’s price hikes would bring in an additional $2.5 to $3 billion in annual revenue, “marking yet another massive corporate payday from the ongoing pandemic.”

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