Surprise Medical Bills: Vaccine Edition

January 16, 2024

Val Davis, a 67-year-old record holding powerlifter from Oregon, takes her health seriously. But she about lost it when she saw the doctor for a wellness exam and was hit with a nearly $1,000 bill for a pneumonia vaccine!

“I blew a cork,” Davis told Willamette Week. “What’s this made from? Ground unicorn horn?”

Davis went into Oregon Health & Science University for her free wellness exam, and the doctor recommended getting a pneumonia vaccine. She says no one mentioned anything about the cost of the shot, and when she got her bill a few months later, she had to scrape her jaw off the floor. The total was $937.49.

Medicare paid more than $600 of the bill, and Davis called and got the price dropped to $288.81. With that and an older bill, she ended up paying OHSU more than $400.

“This was supposed to be a free Medicare wellness exam,” Davis says. “I never thought I would walk out with a $400 bill.”  

An OHSU spokesperson told Willamette Week that the cost – $923.49 – was correct, but Willamette Week was able to find it much cheaper at other pharmacies.

Luckily, Davis had the savings to be able to pay the bill, but she knows others may not have been able to.

“You shouldn’t have to go into debt trying to protect yourself from pneumonia.”

Have you been shocked to find out just how much your free wellness visit or vaccines cost? Tell us your story today.