Objective: To assess adequacy of reimbursement for childhood vaccinations in two rural regions in Colorado, the authors measured medical practice costs of providing childhood vaccinations and compared them with reimbursement.
Methods: A "time-motion" method was used to measure labor costs of providing vaccinations in 13 private and public practices. Practices reported non-labor costs. The authors determined reimbursement by record review.
Results: The average vaccine delivery cost per dose (excluding vaccine cost) ranged from $4.69 for community health centers to $5.60 for private practices. Average reimbursement exceeded average delivery costs for all vaccines and contributed to overhead in private practices. Average reimbursement was less than total cost (vaccine-delivery costs + overhead) in private practices for most vaccines in one region with significant managed care penetration. Reimbursement to public providers was less than the average vaccine delivery costs.
Conclusions: Current reimbursement may not be adequate to induce private practices to provide childhood vaccinations, particularly in areas with substantial managed care penetration.