MADISON ⏤ Tuesday, the state Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) confirmed that Wisconsin will provide the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost to residents.

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According to a release from the OCI, all health insurers will be prohibited from applying cost sharing for the vaccine. 

The state also prohibits any cost associated with the administration of the vaccine.

For the uninsured, they, too, will be given the vaccine without out-of-pocket costs.

“As distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine continues, we want to ensure that every Wisconsinite knows they have access to the vaccine without any cost barriers,” said Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable in a released statement. 

“Regardless of who your insurance company is, or if you even have insurance coverage, Wisconsin residents can be assured that they will not be charged to get the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Follows calls from Kenosha officials

Local officials have been calling for the state to provide the vaccine to constituents at no charge for some time.

Earlier this month, the Kenosha Common Council passed a resolution calling for the state to do so.

“Pretty soon, this vaccine is going to take effect, probably within a couple of weeks,” the resolution’s principal sponsor, Ald. Dominic Ruffalo, said at that time. “We got police; we got fire. Who’s going to pay for them to get it? And they’re going to be one of the first ones to get it. I don’t want them to pay for it at all.

“I think the more people that get the vaccine, the better off the country will be.”

The council passed the resolution unanimously at its Dec. 7 meeting.

Distribution in the state

Currently, state medical personnel are giving doses of the vaccine to health care personnel and people in long-term care and assisted living facilities.

This round of distribution also includes other essential workers. 

Officials don’t expect the general public to receive the vaccine until spring 2021

As established by the state Department of Health Services, Wisconsin’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program provides information about the state’s vaccine distribution plan. 

You can find a summary of the plan at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p02813.pdf.

CARES Act to thank for free vaccine

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act required any coronavirus vaccine to be covered at no cost to consumers. 

The CARES Act also expanded the range of covered COVID-19 services. Those now include testing, office visits and urgent care or emergency room visits, the OCI stated in its release. 

“Tens of thousands of people across Wisconsin have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. And we know that low-income communities and communities of color have been disproportionately impacted,” Afable said. 

“That’s why we’re working to ensure that everyone can get vaccinated, regardless of whether or not you have health insurance.”

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Daniel Thompson is an independent journalist and the founder of The Uptown Observer based in the Kenosha, Wis., area. He started in journalism at the Western Nebraska Observer in 2012 and, most notably,...