The Cost of Getting the Flu
It’s that time of year – FLU SEASON! Prevention costs less than getting the flu and you won’t have to deal with the fever, chills, muscle aches, cough and fatigue. However, most people seem to be willing to take the risk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 43.3% of US adults got the flu vaccine in the 2015-2016 flu season. For those under 18, the rate was 59%. Unfortunately, an estimated 24.5 million people endured the flu, resulting in 11 million medical visits, 308,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths.
What does that look like in dollars? An estimated annual $10.4 billion was spent for hospitalizations and outpatient visits for adults.
In the 2015-2016 flu season, the CDC estimates that the flu vaccine prevented about 5.1 illnesses, 2.5 million flu-induced medical visits and 71,000 hospitalizations. The flu can be mild to severe, can result in hospitalization or even death. Older people, children under age 5, pregnant women and people with certain long-term health conditions are more likely to severely affected. Flu shots are especially important for these high risk groups.
If you have health insurance, the flu shot is typically free, thanks to Obamacare, whether you get it at your doctor’s office or another setting. Always check with your doctor, pharmacy or insurer just to be sure.
If you don’t have insurance and the cost of the shot is too much, check with your local health department. Some pharmacies offer free flu shots to certain people.
Recovery from the flu can take a few days up to 2 weeks, if no complications like sinus infection, bronchitis or pneumonia develop. Even if you have a mild version of the flu, you’re likely to miss some work and spend money on over the counter medications.
For those that don’t have sick days or vacation days, the financial impact can be great. Even if you have paid days off, you could use up your time quickly. Wouldn’t you rather use those paid days off for vacation instead of illness?
The vaccine is not a 100% promise of heath, but it is your best possible protection.