72-year-old cancer survivor Michael Rogan from Longmont, Colorado has been trying to secure a Covid-19 vaccine appointment for the last couple of weeks. He finally succeeded and made an appointment with Boulder Medical Center, but the good news turned sour quickly.

“On Wednesday, I got a call from someone else in the organization saying that I wouldn’t be able to get the vaccine until I paid my outstanding bill,” Rogan told 9news reporters Jennifer Meckles and Chris Vanderveen, who received an email from Rogan’s partner Liz asking to see if it was right.

So the journalists rolled up their sleeves and went on a mission to find out how on earth Rogan’s vaccine got cancelled for owing $243 in unrelated medical treatment from the past. “I know I owe them money, but I don’t think it should be tied to [the vaccine],” he said. After all, the vaccine is free.

Read on for the full account of the incident as shared by the reporter Chris Vanderveen on his Twitter account recently. The thread casts a disturbing light on how vaccines which are supposed to be free to all Americans, no matter their medical record, history, and insurance plan, are being handled for the most vulnerable ones.

72-year-old Michael got his Covid vaccine appointment canceled because he owed $243 to Boulder Medical Center and the incident quickly spread on social media

Image credits: sarahkliff

Journalist Chris set out on a mission with his colleague to find out how could they cancel Michael’s vaccine that’s supposed to be free for anyone due to his medical debt

Image credits: chrisvanderveen

Image credits: chrisvanderveen

Image credits: chrisvanderveen

Image credits: chrisvanderveen

Image credits: chrisvanderveen

Michael and his partner Liz are currently unemployed due to the pandemic and Michael’s diagnosis. When talking to 9News journalists, they admitted to having medical debt due to these circumstances, but Rogan said he was “flabbergasted” that the debt would prevent him from getting a vaccine.

After the journalists started investigating the incident and contacted Boulder Medical Center Thursday afternoon, Michael received a personal call from the medical center’s CEO that same evening. Michael said the medical center apologized and told him it “was an error in vaccine policy.”

Here’s the email that Michael’s partner Liz sent to 9News

Image credits: chrisvanderveen

Image credits: chrisvanderveen

And the CEO of Boulder Medical Center said he would fix the situation

Image credits: chrisvanderveen

The center rescheduled a vaccine appointment for Friday, when Michael finally got his vaccine.

According to Adam Fox, the Deputy Director of Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, a non-profit advocacy group that works to ensure equitable and affordable access to healthcare in Colorado, the incident which happened to Michael is “egregious.”

Fox told 9News that “there should be no copay, no out-of-pocket that anybody faces to receive the vaccine.”

But Chris says it’s not fair for a patient to contact the news to help negotiate with a medical insurance provider to get something that’s essentially free

Image credits: chrisvanderveen

Image credits: chrisvanderveen

In fact, it doesn’t matter what insurance you have, or if you’re uninsured—any American should be able to get their vaccine at no additional costs. This is because Congress passed legislation this spring that bars insurers from applying any cost sharing, such as a co-payment or deductible.

Since the federal government has made a purchase of hundreds of millions of doses on patients’ behalf, Americans that are being vaccinated this year and the coming year will not need to pay for vaccines.

Image credits: chrisvanderveen

Image credits: chrisvanderveen

Image credits: chrisvanderveen

Meanwhile, it turns out that health insurance providers pay for the administrative fees that come with administering the Covid vaccine. David Allen, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, told the NY Times that “The administration fee covers clinicians providing the vaccine to patients, public health reporting, and addressing patient questions.”

Chris encourages everyone to fight for their right to a Covid vaccine

Image credits: chrisvanderveen

Image credits: chrisvanderveen

And finally, Michael is getting his deserved vaccine!

Image credits: chrisvanderveen

But the vaccine protection contract makes sure that the requirements are installed on both the insurers and the providers. According to this contract issued by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccine providers have to sign an agreement not to bill patients for neither the vaccine itself, nor for the cost of administering it.

People joined the thread to comment on the incident and how flawed the American medical system really is

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