Although many consumers pay nothing out of pocket for flu shots, insurers foot the bill. And those prices vary dramatically.
Insurance has made possible random pricing for what should be fixed price goods and services. Contrary to widespread misunderstanding, insurance does not make health care cheaper, it merely makes someone else pay for it. Kaiser found that 3rd parties pay $15 to $85 for the same flu shot.
I paid $19.99, cash, at Costco, because we no longer have 3rd party paymet for prescriptions or vaccinations. Fred Meyer wanted $60 – it was hard to get a price quote from them as they were flustered when I asked for a cash price, as if they didn’t know what to do. Several minutes later they got back to me with a price.
Since I have skin in the game, I shop around. There is no reason for anyone or any insurer to pay exorbitant (and secret) prices for a fixed service like a flu shot. But they do it anyway.
All proposals for addressing health care issues in the United States are of the form “health care costs too much so let’s find someone else to pay for it“. This strategy will only work as long as you can find someone else to pay for it, and then it collapses.
The reality – as shown by prices paid, time after time – is that 3rd party payers enable high prices and do not control them, as they claim.