Below is an abstract of a working paper I am writing with Dr. John Fontanesi and two other co-authors at the CDC. The complete paper is available on my website.
Influenza is the 7th leading killer in the United States. In order an attempt to attenuate the threat of an influenza outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have established guidelines recommending that all parents of children between 0 and 60 months old should be vaccinated. Insurance companies, however, will not reimburse pediatricians who administer influenza vaccinations to adults. This seemingly innocuous insurance company restriction, however, is creating significant costs for society. Using a new observational dataset we estimate the cost of this insurance restriction and find that the cost of the insurance restriction to be between $4.5 and $142.8 million. If proposed CDC policies to vaccinate parents of all children 0-18 years old were adopted, the cost of the insurance company restriction could increase to a figure as large as $400 million. While narrowly the paper advocates allowing pediatricians to vaccinate adults, more generally it warns of the costs inherent when third party entities inhibit the scope of physician-patient interaction.