How Can it be About the Money? Immunizations are Free! Right?
Throughout the years of both defending and educating as many of our friends and family about our decision on immunizations, we have heard these questions or comments many times and in many different formulas. A few examples I have heard myself are these:
- “How can vaccines be all about the money? Immunizations are free!”
- “Don’t you know anything? Doctors actually LOSE money giving vaccines to their patients. They are doing a public service.”
- “Pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t risk lives for money!”
- “The government would never let innocent children be harmed! It’s not like they make money from vaccines!”
I hope through this article to show some truth about what actually happens behind the scenes. The truth may be difficult to accept, but it must be known before any logical conclusion can be drawn.
Vaccines are free, aren’t they? If not, who really pays?
This question is asked by many without knowing what they are actually asking. Lets ask this in another way that makes it much more clear: “The pharmaceutical companies care so much for the health of our children that they donate the vaccines to prevent diseases. Then they don’t have to make those nasty drugs (that they give out free as well) to cure those diseases later! Pharmaceutical companies love to help people and they hate money. Don’t they?” Yes, yes, yes, I know that there are a number of problems with this statement — more than just the statement about “the money”… Namely, the issue that all “Vaccine Preventable” diseases were almost entirely burned out BEFORE vaccines were introduced to combat them, and that Pharma drugs actually CURE anything, rather than cover up symptoms… But I digress.
Yes, contrary to what many people believe, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. In many states the government has given vaccination mandates for attending public schools. In so doing, they also increased property taxes, income taxes, or the like to pay for public vaccination programs. These programs provide the vaccines to all doctors licensed in the state “free of charge” to administer to their patients, usually with an administration fee tacked on for extra spice. These states are called “Universal Purchase States” because they purchase every vaccine that is distributed. But if you live in the state that your doctor practices in, you are paying for those vaccines time and time again (and so are those without children).
Others have health insurance that covers the cost of the vaccines as well as the majority of the office visit cost and they only pay a $10 – $45 co-pay.
Lastly, there is the good old fashioned way, like in California for example, where a well baby check-up and vaccination visit will cost you upwards of $700 without insurance. The state doesn’t pay for them but they are still required, so enjoy the cramp in your wallet muscle.
How much is my child worth to my doctor?
This one may surprise you. Let me explain my methodology in determining these numbers for you. I spent a few hours calling some random pediatrician’s offices in 6 states around the U.S. I chose the 6 states that had the highest website traffic frequency for our website (VaxTruth.org). I’m sorry I didn’t have time to do more, but the pricing seemed pretty similar regardless of the region. In my conversation with each of the receptionists I asked the following “Could you tell me the average cost of a well-child checkup in your office for a child 5 and under please?” Some had different prices for 5 and up but they were within 5 dollars of each other every time. Normally after that question they would automatically chime in with, “is your child fully vaccinated?” — which made me sick. But I pressed with “what is the ‘Administration Fee’ for giving each vaccine?” These varied greatly, some were $7 each, others were $40 for 1 $60 for 2 or more, but there was always an administration fee. In many of the conversations (mainly the “universal purchase states”) they suggested that I bring in my child for a well-child checkup after visiting a local Health and Welfare office or clinic who would give them for free. Here’s what the numbers look like:
I took an average of all the offices I called (At least 3 per state) for both visit cost and administration cost and used those in the calculations below. I followed the recommendations for both vaccination schedule and well-child check-up schedule from the CDC and AAP. What I found, I believe, is a VERY good reason for pushing vaccines for doctors… $$$$$!! I don’t know what do you think? Remember this is PER CHILD vaccinated!
I used the following vaccines in calculating these numbers according to the CDC and AAP recommendations: Infanrix®, Kinrix®, Pediarix®, IPOL®, Havrix®, Engerix B®, PedvaxHIB®, MMRII®, Prevnar 13 TM, Rotarix®, Varivax®, and Fluzone®. These are the most popular vaccinations given, however each doctor can change what brand they purchase. (Table shown below under the Pharm Companies heading)
I received some information from a reader attempting to rebut my research above and I wanted to share their source as well as my interpretation of the information they presented.
The source is from a Georgia study done by a few doctors with the following associations: Immunization Services Division, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia. In this study they attempt to prove that doctors make little, break even, or lose money on giving vaccinations, in Georgia. I looked deeply into this study and found another tidbit of information that was very interesting to me. I assumed that making money on the actual vaccination itself was impossible, however this table from their research proves my assumption incorrect. In their research it shows that in EVERY case, the average COST to the doctor for the vaccine was lower than the reimbursements they receive from insurance, cash or medicaid. So they also have income, in Georgia at least, from the vaccine drug itself.
I will link the whole study for your review, but before you read it I have a few comments to make about it. From their research and conclusions, it APPEARS that over half of the offices who responded to the survey “broke even or suffered financial losses from vaccinating patients.” On the surface this looks to be valid argument, and this may certainly be the case for THESE particular practices in Georgia. I want to point out that this survey was a voluntary survey in which they finally assessed only the “VACCINE FEES” that we looked at in my table above, not the over all visit. I would also like to show that near the bottom in the section titled “Results”. They point out the fact that they sent this survey to 199 total offices (Including 25 volunteers, I’m not sure why…) but there were only 34 respondents to the survey. Why did only 17% respond, you ask? Well they go about explaining that, too. “Survey respondents reported that it took an average of 17 hours to complete the 13-page survey.” This is a simple issue of SUCCESSFUL doctors (the 83% who did not respond and 2% who wanted to do a good service) and UNSUCCESSFUL doctors (The rest of the 17% who responded). Very few successful doctors who are busy with many patients and have a full staff working full time would give 17 hours of his time or that of one of his trusted administrators to fill out a 13 page elective survey… This study has officially been debunked by the poor administration of the survey.
Even if these practices are losing money on the “Vaccine Fees” that does not mean that they are losing money on the visit overall. We have to remember that the Well-Child checkup fee is on top of these vaccine fees.
They also pose an interesting paradigm. They state that the amounts most insurance companies pay for the administration fees are much lower that what the doctor charges or should be paid and in so doing the doctor is losing money on these fees. This points to the exact reasoning that Dr. Sears mentions in his quote below, that doctors are kicking patients from their practices, so they can make their year end bonus and come out on top. This is a disgrace.
Of course we all know that doctors are running businesses and have costs and expenses as well as salaries to be paid. The table above in no way shows “Profit” that they receive from vaccinations, only the total income they receive (on average).
Dr. Sears found an even more compelling reason why many doctors are so adamant about vaccinations. I had never even dreamed that doctors would push vaccines because of money! Here is a quote from his article.
I recently talked with two physicians in different states that told me the HMO plans that they contract with do chart reviews and patient surveys at the end of each year. If their office scores high enough on these reviews, the HMO plan gives them a several thousand dollar bonus. This bonus varies depending on the number of patients the doctor sees. One of the requirements for a patient’s chart to pass the test is that they are fully vaccinated… So, why not give their doctors a bonus for meeting this goal?
Here’s why. This policy gives any doctor who contracts with such HMO plans an incentive to NOT want any unvaccinating families in their practice. Maybe a few such families wouldn’t make them fail the chart reviews, but if they have too many, there goes their year-end bonus.
I’ve always wondered why so many doctors are so adamantly hardcore about demanding all their patients fully vaccinate, and why they kick patients out of their office who refuse. I’d always just assumed it was because the doctors felt that the vaccine protection was so important that they don’t want any children to be at risk, so they draw a line in the sand for the good of the child (in their minds). BUT some doctors, especially those large groups who rely heavily on large HMO contracts, may actually be doing this because of money. Do they have the right to do so? Of course. But is it right? I don’t know. The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Bioethics makes it very clear that the official AAP policy is that doctors NOT kick patients out of their office over this issue. But when money talks, some people don’t listen…
I thought you’d find it interesting to know why you might be having a hard time finding a vaccine-friendly doctor. If you’ve never checked out my vaccine-friendly doctors list, click here to find one near you (he’ll be the one driving the Honda instead of the Lexus).
How much is my child worth to the pharmaceutical companies?
According to many proponents of vaccinations… this number is zero. Why don’t we take a look at the real numbers. Using the CDC Vaccine Price List (Updated August 31st 2011), I took the same dosage information I used in the doctors section above to find out how much money the Pharm companies are making per child during the same time period. I used the private sector numbers due to the majority of vaccines being purchased by both states and doctors at that price. Again, I used the most popular brands of vaccinations in this calculation, each doctor can choose which brand they administer, which would change who got how much. This is a “perfect example” of not missing any vaccination visits and being fully vaccinated on time:
Now lets do some more math. In 2010 there were 4,247,694 births in the U.S. If we take a conservative average vaccination rate of 90% and multiply that by the table of values above. What do we get? This is where the numbers get scary big:
Considering this is one years worth of births in the U.S. You can quickly surmise that the pharmaceutical companies have a HUGE interest in increasing and protecting vaccination rates at any cost. Do we really trust these companies to be honest and tell us if/when their product is deadly to some and harmful to many more?
Here is the price list I used to calculate my figures used for the tables in this article:
How much is my child worth to the government?
One of the many things that defenders of vaccinations state time and time again when faced with proof from the FDA, CDC, EPA and VAERS databases that vaccines are harmful like we have presented here – is something like this: “The government would never let innocent children be harmed! It’s not like they make money from vaccines!” Well, on the CDC’s own website as shown on the table above, they do make money in the form of Excise Tax and on every vaccine that is given. They use this money to pay for the “Vaccine Court” which allows vaccine manufacturers to walk away scott-free if/when a citizen of the US is damaged by a vaccine. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services – Heath Resources and Services Administration, This “Vaccine Court has paid out a total of $2,381,131,203.84 since 1989 through Feb 2, 2012. Yes that is $2.3 BILLION! So Far this year (2012) they have paid out a total of $61,104,749.34 in damages as well, (Source HRSA.gov). How much money is collected per child? Take a look below:
Do keep in mind this does not include any State or Local taxes charged. We could also talk all day about the campaign contributions that the pharmaceutical companies make to political parties, representatives and how much they spend on lobbying, but we will leave that to another medium. Now lets take a look at the 2010 birth numbers in comparison with the Excise Tax amounts above:
Yikes! So now you can make a fully informed decision armed with the knowledge that your child is worth A LOT of money to a lot of people, companies, and the government. Of course to you, your child is priceless — with value far beyond what money can buy. But many in these different groups, see only dollar signs.