CBSN

Saving on flu shots

It's that time of year again, when a few sniffles and sneezes can develop into the flu. Flu vaccinations are already available and you can even find a deal.  Kelli Grant, Senior Consumer Reporter for SmartMoney.com, offers tips on how to save when getting your flu shot.

First, consider the alternative.  Even at full price, a flu shot is a pretty good bargain. The CDC estimates that the flu costs Americans $40 billion a year in lost wages and in healthcare costs. And one survey found that a third of flu sufferers spends $251 to $1,000 recovering.  It's better on your wallet to get the vaccine instead of risking getting the flu.

When you are ready to get your shot, check your insurance.  Under the health care overhaul, many plans now provide preventive services for free and that includes flu shots. But you should ask first. Some plans are still temporarily exempt from the new laws, and you'll still pay if immunization isn't the main cause of your doctor visit.

Also, shop by the shot type.  If you're paying out of pocket, shot prices can vary by location, costing as little as $15 or as much as $30. Keep in mind, too, that there are other options. Flu vaccines also come in the form of a nasal spray and a new less-painful needle.  But those options tend to be more expensive.

Don't be afraid to hunt for a bargain.  Drugstores and supermarkets often offer extras for getting a flu shot at their in-store clinics. Safeway, for example, offers a 10% off coupon for a future grocery trip, while Rite Aid offers a $100 booklet of store coupons. CVS and Winn-Dixies offer cheaper rates, too, if you're uninsured or your plan doesn't cover immunizations.

And finally, talk to Human Resources at your place of employment.  Nearly three-quarters of employers offer flu-shots as a perk to employees. Ask if there will be an on-site clinic. Some employers also offer vouchers so you can get vaccinated at whichever doctor or drugstore you'd like.

For more tips on what to  consider before getting your flu shot and other consumer advice, please visit www.smartmoney.com.