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Affordable Care Act Requires Vaccine Coverage; Has Done So for Three Years

Now I know why Birchy conservatives really hate the Affordable Care Act: it requires insurance companies to cover vaccines!

"Payment has always been a big barrier to making sure children are properly protected against those preventable diseases," Sanford Clinic Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dan Heinemann said.

Dr. Heinemann says while it will cost insurance providers initially to pay for the vaccines, hopefully it will save money in the future by preventing diseases.

"When you prevent illnesses, downstream you reduce costs because people aren't sick," Heinemann said.

Here are just a few of the vaccines that are now covered under the Affordable Care Act: Hepatitis A and B, measles, mumps and rubella and the human papillomavirus.

"Clean drinking water and vaccinations are two of the hallmarks of public health and why we've been able to reduce the number of illnesses, especially in children," Heinemann said [Casey Wonnenberg, "Vaccines Covered under Affordable Care Act,", 2013.10.02].

Some South Dakota conservatives will tell you all those shots are just some government plot. When Sanford, Avera, and Rapid City Regional hospitals require their employees to get flu shots to protect the health of their customers, some of my Facebook acquaintances complain about the unjust infringement on worker rights (which suddenly matter when defending the right to resist public health measures but not when defending the right to unionize and fight for better pay). And HPV? Oh my: some conservatives will tell you that just means we'll have a whole bunch of women having sex without getting sick.

By the way, the ACA's coverage of vaccines isn't really news. The HHS info sheet Wonnenberg links at the bottom of her report (yes! Thank you, Casey! More reporters should do that!) reminds us that the ACA's vaccine coverage and other preventive care requirements kicked in three years ago. The Affordable Care Act has been doing good for over three years, and the Republic hasn't collapsed. Carry on!


  1. Kevin Weiland 2013.10.03

    The greatest success story in modern medicine has been the use of vaccinations to control and eliminate disease. Immunizations are kin to the “finger in the dyke”, referring to the amount of money spent on the vaccine is considered trivial to the amount of money spent on treating complications of infection. It took the Government to mandated vaccinations be covered.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.03

    Kevin, that's a good article! Thanks for the link and for weighing in with some genuine medical expertise! Unlike some conservatives, this blog appreciates science.

  3. Kevin Weiland 2013.10.03

    Cory, I had a monthly column with the Rapid City Journal. I wrote this article in 2005 out of frustration that the flu shots were distributed to the big corporations first. The shortage of vaccine at that time left our primary care team without vaccine. After I wrote the column, Sen. Johnson stepped up to the plate and issued a statement.

    Big corps like Wal-Mart competed with us as they had the resources (money) to purchase the vaccine. They ate the supply up and left my high risk patients without coverage that year. As I recall, several of my patients were extremely sick that year, costing Medicare even more money when they were hospitalized. So, I guess I proud of my brother, Rick, for exposing the big money in politics as I have had personal experience with Big Money in Medicine as well.

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