With an ongoing outbreak, a lot of people have been trying to get the hepatitis A vaccine.
But some are having trouble getting a prescription.
We checked with several pharmacies and a doctor to see why a prescription is needed.
We learned some insurance carriers require a prescription for reimbursement.
Makakilo resident Bernard Judson says he was having a hard time getting his hepatitis A vaccination.
“I’m not trying to get something for nothing. I just don’t want to get something,” said Judson.
He says it took him three days to get the vaccine. First, he went to a pharmacy and was told they were out. He then went to another one, but didn’t have a prescription, so he was told he would have to pay.
“I called my insurance company and they gave me the same line: ‘We have this schedule for medications and you have to do certain things and you have to be high risk,'” he said.
Judson finally went to his doctor and got the vaccination there.
If you don’t mind paying out of pocket for the vaccine, you can walk into any pharmacy that carries it without a prescription.
But if you want your insurance to pay for it, that’s when you need a prescription.
“It’s not medically necessary to have a prescription, and in fact vaccine clinics can give a lot of vaccines without a prescription. However, major medical insurers in Hawaii, several of them, require a prescription for reimbursment of this very expensive hepatitis a vaccine,” explained Dr. Kalani Brady.
Brady says the vaccines could cost you between $80 and $150 depending on where you go, and remember you need two doses, six months apart.
Safeway’s pharmacy charges $95 without a prescription. They have been doing approximately 100 vaccinations a day since last week.
“Are you finding that most people are coming with a prescription or are they willing to pay out of pocket?” KHON2 asked Alanna Isobe, Safeway Kapahulu pharmacy manager.
“Most people are getting a prescription,” she replied.
HMSA says it pays for most of its members who have a prescription. It says the hepatitis A vaccine is effective, but may not be right for everyone, which is why it wants members to talk to their doctor.
Kaiser Permanente offers the vaccine to their members at no charge. HMAA also covers the vaccine 100-percent for its members.
We also checked with Longs Drugs Pharmacy, which said if a patient with HMSA HMO is unable to get a prescription, the pharmacy can still administer the vaccine, but won’t be able to bill your insurance.
Doctors go digital for patients seeking hepatitis A vaccine
Many are turning to new, high-tech options to get their prescription.
HMSA offers online care to let people use a video call, like Facetime, to talk to a doctor.
It’s helpful for those who don’t have a primary care physician or can’t get in touch with one.
There’s also another video-call option for those without insurance. Doctors on Call Now (DOCNow) is offering peace of mind from your laptop, tablet, even your cell phone.
Patients can video chat with a local doctor about questions for hepatitis A. Non-insured patients pay $49 a visit.
“We’ll talk to you, see what your actual risk is, what your concerns are, and if we think it’s appropriate, we will electronically submit a prescription to the pharmacy of your choice,” explained Dr. Jim Barahal, DOCNow CEO.
“There’s a lot of questions that we can answer that pharmacy staff can answer, but there are a lot of questions that really need to be asked by a physician,” he added.
DOCNow is open daily from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. To receive your first visit free, download the promo code at doctorsoncallnow.com.