In an April 15 notice on its COVID-19 portal, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) reminded healthcare providers that COVID-19 vaccines must be administered at no out-of-pocket cost to patients. OIG has received complaints from patients that their providers charged them for COVID-19 vaccines.

Under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program, providers may not refuse to vaccinate anyone based on insurance status; may not charge an office visit or other fee for the vaccine; may not require that the patient obtain other medical services in order to receive a vaccination; and may not “balance bill” the vaccine recipient. Providers can, however, bill third-party payers (including Medicare and Medicaid) for administering the vaccine.

OIG also said that it has investigated a “steady stream of allegations of COVID-19-related fraud and abuse.”