Rural Calif. doctors face mounting whooping cough vaccination costs

In the face of one of the worst whooping cough outbreaks in the state's history, California's rural doctors have raised concerns that vaccines to prevent the disease are too expensive.

The problem, reports, stems from how little insurance companies are willing to reimburse doctors for providing the vaccine. The companies will cover the cost of vaccines but not the cost of storing or administering them, California Academy of Family Physicians spokesman Tom Reilly told

One round of vaccines for a child can cost a doctor's office as much as $450, Reilly said, reports.

"Even doctors who work hard to purchase the vaccine at the best available rate often cannot match the low reimbursement that insurance pays for that vaccine, Dr. Sumana Reddy, a doctor with a rural practice in Salinas, California, told

Doctors, however, are given a reimbursement fee for uninsured children, who receive the vaccines free of charge through the federal Vaccines for Children program or Medi-Cal.

According to a December 2008 Journal of Pediatrics study, as many as 10 percent of doctors who provided vaccinations to privately insured children were considering dropping the practice because of its expense.

Legislation - AB2093 - has been proposed by the California Academy of Family Physicians that would require insurers to pay administration costs for vaccines. The bills is opposed by the lobbying group California Association of Health Plans, which calls it overreaching on what costs should be covered.

The Senate Health committee will hear the bill next week.