For Immediate Release: April 24, 2013
DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES DIRECTS HEALTH INSURERS TO INFORM PUBLIC THAT MENINGITIS VACCINE EFFECTIVE AGAINST NEW, LETHAL STRAIN IS COVERED UNDER INSURANCE
NEW YORK, NY - Superintendent of Financial Services Benjamin M. Lawsky sent letters to health insurers today directing them to inform the public that meningitis vaccines effective against a new, lethal strain of that disease are covered under insurance.
Superintendent Lawsky said: "Fortunately, standard meningitis vaccines have proven effective against this lethal strain, but too many health providers and those at risk don't know that it's covered under insurance. We're urging health insurers to get the word out so that New Yorkers know that this life-saving vaccine is available to them at no cost."
"I commend Benjamin Lawsky, the Superintendent of Financial Services, for directing health insurers to inform health care providers and the public that vaccination for meningitis is covered by their insurance plans," said State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan. "The outbreak of bacterial meningitis has the potential to seriously impact men who have sex with men, in particular those who are HIV positive. According to the NYC Department of Health, approximately 20 percent of people who develop the disease die of it, and it has already resulted in eight deaths and more than twenty cases in the New York City area. I have heard from constituents, many of the them gay men, who have been informed by their health care providers that the vaccination is not covered by insurance. The Superintendent’s letter will clarify the situation and raise much-needed public awareness about this deadly disease and the importance and availability of the life-saving vaccination."
Recent warnings by public officials and news reports have brought heightened attention to a new strain of meningitis - one which predominantly affects men who have intimate contact with other men - that is especially lethal, killing one out every three people who are infected. Public health officials have grown increasingly concerned that there could be a major outbreak if steps are not taken to control the spread of the disease.
Under New York State law, health insurance plans must cover these meningitis immunizations. Nonetheless, too many New Yorkers and health providers are unaware that insurance coverage is available for the meningitis vaccine.
Superintendent Lawsky urged health insurers to inform health providers immediately - via email, newsletters, internet postings, and other means – that insurance coverage is available for meningitis vaccines.
To read a full copy of Superintendent Lawsky's letter to health insurers about the meningitis vaccines, please visit: http://www.dfs.ny.gov/about/press2013/pr1304241.meningitis.letter.pdf.