Parents who take their children to get back-to-school vaccines at Collin County Health Care Services (CCHCS) may be surprised this year, thanks to the state.
Insured children 18 years and younger can no longer get vaccines at CCHCS under a new change in state policy effective Jan. 1.
In the past, CCHCS provided free or low-cost vaccines to children who couldn’t afford them, including children with high co-pays or deductibles. These children were eligible because they were considered underinsured.
Now, state and federal immunization funding cuts, increases in vaccine costs and heightened federal accountability for publicly-funded vaccines have changed the meaning of "underinsured."
Children with insurance policies which cover vaccines are no longer considered underinsured, unless their policies meet one of the following criteria:
- Has commercial (private) health insurance, but coverage does not include vaccines; or
- Insurance only covers selected vaccines; or
- Insurance caps vaccine coverage at a certain amount. (Once that coverage amount is reached, the child is categorized as underinsured.)
Although these recent changes have impacted the amount of vaccines CCHCS traditionally administers, this recent policy change by the state also promotes parents to find a medical home.
A medical home is a partnership between patients and their physicians to ensure comprehensive and continuous medical care for patients with a goal of obtaining maximized health outcomes.
The Affordable Care Act mandates that vaccines be covered as preventive care, so children enrolled in health plans within the past two years should not have to pay for vaccines at their doctors’ offices.
Another recent change was the amendment of H.B. 4189, also referred to as the Jamie Schanbaum Act, now known as S.B. 1107. This law requires a first-time student or transfer student of any institution of higher education (including private or independent institutions) and a student who previously attended an institution of higher education before Jan. 1, 2012 who is enrolling again following a break in enrollment of at least one fall or spring semester to show proof that the student has been vaccinated against bacterial meningitis.
Students to whom this rule does not apply are:
- A student 30 years of age or older by the first day of the start of the semester
- A student enrolled only in online or other distance education courses
- A student enrolled in a continuing education course or program that is less than 360 contact hours, or continuing education corporate training
- A student enrolled in a dual credit course which is taught at a public or private K-12 facility not located on a higher education institution campus
- A student incarcerated in a Texas prison
CCCHS offers the meningitis vaccine for $125. CCHCS is trying to get the word out before school starts, since for many districts this will impact student enrollment in late August.
Last-minute parents rushing to CCHCS to get their children’s’ vaccines may be disappointed after standing in lines awaiting their turn.
CCHCS expects the traditional back-to-school rush – however, if you have insurance, CCHCS cannot give you your vaccinations if you are 18 years of age or younger.
For a complete listing of available immunizations and prices, please visit the Collin County Health Care Services website: http://www.collincountytx.gov/healthcare_services/immunization.jsp.
CCHCS is open Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. No appointment is necessary and cash, check, Visa, MasterCard and Medicaid are accepted. A complete shot record is required for children 18 years old and younger.
For more information, please contact Christie Hix, RN, Immunization Program Manager at Collin County Health Care Services, at 972-548-5549.