The 2 million target may seem modest, given that nearly half of people 65 and over have already received a dose and the large increase in vaccine supply expected in the coming weeks. However, participating insurers said they hope this will guide broader efforts to vaccinate hard-to-reach populations, a key element in ensuring the country achieves herd immunity to the virus.
“Over the 100 days, we’ll have a plan to share with others,” said Tonya Adams, who leads the customer experience at Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon and helps with program logistics.
And an administration official said the program would be helpful in setting a target to target insurers so they can get at least 2 million people vaccinated as soon as possible.
“We are pleased that health insurance companies – many of which have the technology, connections and human resources to do so – are committed to helping vulnerable Americans get vaccinated,” Slavitt said in a statement.
How it will work: The effort will largely involve clients of private Medicare plans and low-income seniors who are eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. Thirteen insurers are currently involved, according to AHIP.
Health plans will organize vaccine registrations through national and local registries, work with their clients’ doctors or help people figure out how to make appointments at local pharmacies.
Adams said the effort would start in Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota and other states with large numbers of people in areas that rank at the top of the Social Vulnerability Index of the United States. CDC, which measures communities most in need of assistance based on factors such as access to transport, housing conditions and minority status.
The White House is not reserving additional funding for this effort. The government already covers the full cost of the coronavirus vaccines, and insurers must fully cover all costs associated with administering the vaccines.
How did that happen: The announcement follows weeks of discussions between Slavitt and Health Plans over their role in improving equitable distribution, with people of color being vaccinated at rates far lower than whites. AHIP said the 2 million vaccine target has been set for weeks, although recent White House announcements about expanding vaccine supplies could mean they are hitting the target sooner than 100 days.
Still, some industry lobbyists have expressed concern that the White House has not fully detailed the effort. Others told POLITICO they were concerned that the involvement of health plans could slow down an already complex deployment.
“Everyone is looking for ways to go faster, but what if there is no easy answer?” said a lobbyist working with health plans. “I think they’re trying to bring in more and more access points, but I don’t know if they’ll be better answers.”
Meanwhile, some insurers have been claiming for months access to federal immunization data so they get a better overview of which of their clients have been vaccinated – and then entice those who haven’t. Health plans have said they have limited data on vaccine claims, as many are administered for free on public sites, and claims for administration of vaccines may not appear for weeks or months more. late.