Action 9 looks into fee for ‘free’ COVID-19 vaccine

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Paula Hagen couldn’t wait to get the vaccine.

“I was stressing until I got it,” Hagen said.

She said she got it at Novant Health.

“I happen to be looking on my portal, my patient portal online. And it popped up, a $39 fee,” Hagen said. “So I immediately called Novant and [the representative] told me it was an Admin. fee.”

According to her portal, it looks like Novant billed her insurance, but it was still pending. So she was worried she might have to pay the fee if her insurance didn’t.

“I started checking with people to see if anybody else had been charged and nobody else had,” Hagen said.

One of those people was her son. “I was talking to him about it and he said, ‘Call Jason [Stoogenke].”

She emailed Action 9’s Jason Stoogenke and he emailed Novant.

Hagen said a few days later Novant mailed her a letter. It said “A system issue sent a bill to you for a vaccine administration fee. This was an error and there is no payment due.”

It went on to say if you paid by credit card, you’ll get the money back immediately. If you paid using other forms of payment, Novant will reimburse you within two weeks.

Novant told Stoogenke it billed 1,300 patients by mistake.

NOVANT STATEMENT:

“Our team is aware that a temporary system issue may have resulted in a limited amount of patients receiving a bill in error. To be clear, there is no cost to any patient for the COVID-19 vaccine or administration fee. As such, we advise patients who may have received a bill for vaccine administration to please disregard this bill. Impacted patients should receive direct communications, making it clear that payment is not due. If a patient does submit a payment, it will be reimbursed, but our hope is to reach everyone before that point.”

Novant said it gave 250,000 shots so far. So, do the math, if it billed 1,300 people by mistake, that’s less than 1%.

No matter where you get the shot -- Novant or elsewhere -- the provider may charge your insurance an administration fee. All insurance companies should pay it. Even if you don’t have insurance, you don’t have to pay it.

Remember: the vaccine is free.