Back to School Shopping Hits Health Care

By Anna Greene, Senior Community Manager

It’s the time of year when kids and their parents are settling back into the grind of going back to school…but we had to ask, what does that mean for the health care industry?

It means it’s immunization season! Immunization Cost Searches

Our savvy health care shoppers are taking the time to shop for a very important part of back to school-prep for their kids: immunizations. In fact, we saw a 92% increase in our average daily searches for the cost of immunizations in September when compared to June and July, and a 70% increase over the daily average for the year to date.

By now many of us know that health care costs can vary dramatically across the country – even within the same town – and immunizations are not immune to that trend (ha, get it?). So we wanted to know, how much does the cost vary for immunizations? How much could you be saving by comparison shopping for them? Questions that are especially important at this time of year when so many people seek out immunizations.

We took a look at what a certain immunizations would cost you at a number of national pharmacy chains as well as a local retail health clinic/urgent care (ZoomCare) with readily available costs online. This is what we found: Immunization costs graph 1

As you can see, it is vastly cheaper to avoid retail health clinics or urgent care centers to get your shots, and it pays off to shop around for the best price – consistently found at Costco for a number of immunizations. Flu shots are a great example – to get one at CVS or Walgreens is more than twice the price of Costco. If you’re comparing costs between CVS and Walgreens, it’ll be well worth the trip to Walgreens over CVS, yielding a savings of $109.38 for single doses of the five immunizations above.

In the case of MMR and Polio immunizations, you’ll once again want to avoid the retail health clinics or urgent care centers and head to Walgreens over CVS. Immunization Costs Graph 2

Why is this important? It shows that you’re not the only ones waiting until the last minute to get back to school immunizations, but also isolates a behavior unique to health care shopping that is clearly tied to the back to school season. By understanding how and when people are shopping for certain types of care, we can best help them navigate our tools and their health care experience to make smarter health care choices.

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