Insurers Brace for When U.S. Stops Buying COVID-19 Vaccines, Therapeutics

The federal government will stop purchasing COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics as soon as this fall, Biden administration officials said recently — meaning payers will have to procure vaccines and treatments like any other commercial pharmaceutical product. Health care experts tell AIS Health, a division of MMIT, that the move is likely to make vaccines and therapeutics less accessible and introduce dispensing costs that could drive up premiums.

The Biden administration is transitioning away from the “acute emergency phase where the U.S. government is buying the vaccines, buying the treatments, buying the diagnostic tests. We need to get out of that business over the long run,” White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Ashish Jha, M.D., said during an Aug. 16 event organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter has worked as a journalist since 2011 and has covered health care since 2020. At AIS Health, Peter covers trends in finance, business and policy that affect the health insurance and pharma sectors. For Health Plan Weekly, he covers all aspects of the U.S. health insurance sector, including employer-sponsored insurance, Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage and the Affordable Care Act individual marketplaces. In Radar on Drug Benefits, Peter covers the operations of (and conflicts between) pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, with a particular focus on pricing dynamics and market access. Before joining AIS Health, Peter covered transportation, public safety and local government for various outlets in Seattle, his hometown and current place of residence. He graduated with a B.A. from Colby College.

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