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Pediatricians Say High Cost of Vaccines a Problem

Cost of vaccines outstripping public and private insurance reimbursement to pediatricians

WEDNESDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- Skyrocketing vaccine costs and falling health insurance and Medicaid reimbursement for such vaccines are leaving pediatricians in a difficult position where they may not be able to offer some vaccines to their patients, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

While 85 percent of American children get vaccinated by pediatricians, these physicians often have a lengthy wait before reimbursement by Medicaid and private insurance companies, at rates often lower than vaccine prices, the academy notes.

A national 2006 survey of primary care pediatricians, pediatric subspecialists and surgical specialists found that fewer than half of pediatricians deemed reimbursements by Medicaid and private health insurance as sufficient.

Meanwhile, the true costs of the routine measles, mumps and rubella vaccine ($86); the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq ($190); and the cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil ($360), are higher than payers recognize. Add ordering, inventory control, storage and spoilage costs, and some pediatricians cannot offer the latest vaccines, according to the AAP.

"Childhood vaccines are among the greatest medical breakthroughs of the last century and are vital to growing up healthy," AAP President Jay E. Berkelhamer, M.D., said in a statement. "However, the system for delivering vaccines is broken, and we're going to be in real trouble if it's not fixed soon."

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