HPV vaccination free for some, but not all

What seems to be a genuine effort to
assist those in need may just be a thinly
veiled bureaucracy.
The Anchorage Department of
Health and Human Services is currently
doing a big push to promote the human
papillomavirus vaccination for young girls.
DHHS is offering the vaccination
Girls and young women between the
ages of 9 and 26 are recommended to
vaccinate themselves against HPV. The
vaccination prevents two of the HPV
strains that make up for 70 percent of
cervical cancers cases.
Currently the vaccinations for HPV
are available through the Municipality
of Anchorage Department of Health and
Human Services free of charge for girls’
ages 9 to 18 years of age.
However, only Medicaid-eligible (Denali
KidCare), Alaska Native, American Indian
or those without insurance are eligible to
receive the vaccination free of charge.
According to Toni Carter, a Family
Service aid with DHHS, if a girl does have
medical insurance, she does not qualify
for the free vaccination.
Carter said that they would have
to contact their insurance company to
determine if there is coverage. Some
insurance companies do not cover the cost
of the vaccination.
Enzina Marrari is the Education
Manager for Planned Parenthood of the
Great Northwest.
Merrari said that although it is
dependent on the plan, most insurance
companies cover at least part of the cost.
That is because the FDA, as preventative
care, approves the HPV vaccination.
The vaccine’s distributor, Gardasil,
offers two assistance programs to cover
the cost of the vaccine for those who need
it.
The Vaccines for Children Program is an
option for children who cannot afford the
vaccine and the Merck Vaccinate Patient
Assistance Program for individuals who
are 19 years or older that cannot afford it.
Marrari educates junior high and high
schools on the vaccination in the context
of sexually transmitted infections.
“There is a lot of curiosity and some
concerns about it,” Marrari said. “There is
a lot of curiosity and some concerns about
it.”
Betty Bang, a family nurse practitioner
and health educator at UAA, said the Student
Health Center currently charges $143 per
shot. The vaccination is administered in a
three shot series over six months, totaling
$429 for the full vaccination for students.
The university offers the vaccination at
cost. Bang said doctor’s offi ces will usually
charge more-and many times there is
also the cost of the initial offi ce visit.
The only insurance plans that are
accepted at UAA are Blue Shield or United.
Bang said that United Insurance does not
pay for the HPV vaccination-they only
pay for any vaccinations that are required
for housing on campus.
Bang said the reason that the HPV
vaccination is not offered for free to girls
under 18 with insurance is the same reason
other vaccinations are not.
“It costs the state a lot of money,”
Bang said. “These vaccinations are very
expensive.”