Save Money on Your Flu Shot This Winter
Ever since I started working in a cubicle environment, I feel like I get sick much more frequently than I used to. Although we have unlimited sick days at work, I don’t like to use them unless I’m truly sick and can’t get out of bed. For all the minor coughs and colds, I’ll still come in and get my work done even if I should probably be resting at home. But who wants to stay at home and watch TV all day when you’re sick? That can get old quickly.
The problem with this mentality though, is that everyone has it. If you’re a manager and two of your employees have similar performance, and you have to lay someone off, who are you more likely to get rid of? The guy who’s sick all the time or the guy who never misses a day. Most employees know this so that’s why they still come in when they’re sick and that’s when the cold and flu start to spread.
My First Flu Shot
This flu season, I decided to get a flu shot to try and protect myself from my co-workers. A flu shot is essentially a vaccine, and each year it contains a weakened or inactivated flu virus. When your body sees this inactivated virus, it creates antibodies that will help fight off future attacks should you encounter the live version of the virus in the future. Now you won’t be impervious to the flu if you get this shot, but it will protect you against the strains that are expected to be the most common and most serious.
Preventative Care Coverage
I have a HSA/HDHP(and you should too!) through my employer so I figured a flu shot would have to be covered as preventative care. I mean the shot is trying to prevent the flu, but when I called in to Aetna, I got different answers from different reps. One rep told me that it would be covered and another told me that it would not be.
I ended up going to a couple pharmacies and the second one(CVS) that I went to told me I was covered! I’m not sure why the first one(Ralphs) told me I wasn’t covered and CVS told me I was, but if you’re going to get your flu shot, make sure you ask around to see if you’re covered.
I called about five different places to compare prices and here’s what I found:
- Costco – $17 – Best Price
- Employer Flu Shot – $20 – Most Convenient
- CVS – $32
- Walgreens – $32
- Ralphs – $35
Now your prices may vary depending on what area you’re in, but I couldn’t find anyone with a lower price than Costco(big surprise huh?). I included my employer option because this can be the most convenient for a lot of people. Most large companies will offer reduced or sometimes free flu shots to their employees around this time because they don’t want them to get sick. Subsidized employer flu shots are usually the cheapest option so be on the lookout over the next month or so.
If you have a HSA/HDHP combo, your flu shot should definitely be covered as preventative care. Most plans allow you to go to your own doctor to get the shot administered or to send in a receipt from a pharmacy like CVS and get reimbursed. I don’t trust insurance companies so I wanted to make sure I didn’t have to pay one cent out of pocket. When I went to CVS, they told me I was covered, so I got the shot and was on my way, no money out of pocket.
Yesterday, I received the claim from Aetna on my online account and saw the total billable cost to Aetna was $22.50. Here’s what this means:
- If you don’t have insurance, the flu shot will cost you $32 at CVS.
- If you have Aetna health insurance, but no preventative care coverage, the shot will cost you $22.50.
- If you have Aetna health insurance with preventative care coverage, the shot will be free!
I know there are some arguments against getting a flu shot, but if you can get it for free, there’s really no reason not to. Even if you still end up getting sick, I think it’s worth it to try and prevent it for $30 or less. The amount of time I would lose from getting sick just once is worth a lot more than $30 to me.
Readers, have you ever gotten a flu shot or do you plan on getting one this flu season? Are there any reasons not to get one if it’s free or only $20?
-Harry @ PF Pro