Some Wisconsinites incorrectly billed for COVID-19 vaccine, US attorney says

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Some people in Wisconsin have been incorrectly billed for COVID-19 shots according to the Western Wisconsin District US Attorney's Office.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services did not have an estimate of how common the issue is, but said people should not be charged for the vaccine.

Health officials want to stress that you should not have to pay.

"The first thing is definitely contact the health system and see why you got the bill," UW-Madison Population Sciences Professor Ajay Sethi said. "They should immediately retract that."

The US Attorney's Office is warning providers not to charge patients.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found a significant portion of unvaccinated people are worried about getting stuck with a bill.

"They are concerned they are going to have to pay something out of pocket in order to get the vaccine," Kaiser Director of Survey Research Liz Hamel said. "And in fact among Black and Hispanic adults who haven't been vaccinated, even larger shares are concerned." 

About one out of three unvaccinated people worry about out-of-pocket costs. That jumps to half of the unvaccinated Latino population.

Milwaukee's Sixteenth Street clinic treats a large Latino population, and said one key to fighting hesitancy is face-to-face conversation.

"One thing that Sixteenth Street is doing that I think is great is patients coming in and having that conversation with your provider," Parkway Clinic Manager Jon Sancen said. "Your provider is someone you trust, and your primary care doctor is someone you trust."

Sixteenth Street wants people to know you do not need an ID card for a vaccine.

They also find transportation to be one of the largest barriers.

"If we get a call and a patient isn't able to, they don't have transportation, we'll give them a bus pass to get them here," Sancen said.

The Kaiser Foundation said the number one concern of unvaccinated people remains being afraid of health risks or side effects from taking the vaccine.

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