Coverage for shingles vaccine is complicated

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DEAR SUN SPOTS: You are a fountain of information that we all appreciate and enjoy. I am in hopes that you will be able to tell me if there are any locations that give the shingles shot for no charge but take a donation? I have been told that it is very expensive and not covered by insurance. Are there any clinics in the Lewiston-Auburn area that have this service?

Also, I am looking for information on the 6-to-10-mile garage sale that is held in the Skowhegan and Cornville area. I would appreciate the date and directions. I think it is in May. — No Name, New Gloucester

ANSWER: Sun Spots does not know of any low-cost options for the shingles vaccine. Vaccine clinics usually focus on contagious diseases, such as the flu, and shingles, although very painful, is not contagious.

You should check with your doctor or health insurer to see if your plan covers the vaccine. According to postings online, if you have a Medicare Part D plan, it may cover the cost of the vaccine itself, although not the cost to have it administered by your doctor.

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At http://seniorjournal.com/DearMarci.htm, Sun Spots found the following information. (Seniors may find this site quite useful in general.)

“Dear Marci, Is it true that Medicare now covers the new shingles vaccine? — Peg

“Dear Peg, The shingles vaccine (Zostavax ®) will only be covered for you if you have a Medicare private drug plan (Part D) that covers this particular vaccine. If you have a Medicare drug plan, call and ask whether it covers the shingles vaccine. If it does not, you can ask your drug plan to cover it for you.

“This is called asking for an ‘exception,’ and your doctor will have to write a letter to the drug plan that states why the vaccine is medically necessary. If your drug plan covers the vaccine, ask whether your doctor can bill the drug plan directly for the drug. If not, you can pay for the vaccine and ask your plan for reimbursement. … — Marci”

Sun Spots realizes that this is rather confusing and complicated, but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. You will need to check on your particular insurance.

As for your garage sale, the big weekend is Memorial Day, but they have already started. Sun Spots couldn’t find any details about the particular sale you’re interested in, but a reader probably will know of it. Meanwhile, you will want to check out the Sun Journal’s classifieds. During the yard sale season, the Sun Journal has a special category for them in the classifieds, which runs Thursday through Saturday. If there are a lot of ads, they will be set off and boxed.

For those who are thinking about having their own garage sale, you will need to call before 10 a.m. on Wednesday to get your ad in on Thursday. The rates vary, depending on the number of days and length, but the lowest possible cost is $16.80. If you live in Lewiston or Auburn, you will need a permit from the city. Lewiston charges $6, Auburn $10.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I am looking for parts or a complete bike. The one of interest is a Sears Sprint moped. I would also like to know if there are any repair shops locally for these bikes. I can be reached at 824-2341. — Cam Hostings, Bethel

ANSWER: Sun Spots thought it seemed logical that Sears would fix its own mopeds, so she called the automotive departments at Lewiston and Portland, but they said they do not fix them and have no idea who might. The Sears repair center (1-800-366-PART) might be able to help you if you can bear to sit through their automated system.

A person at a local motorcycle repair shop said he did not know of anyone who fixes mopeds. One thought is that the small engines on mopeds might be similar to those used in gardening equipment. Perhaps your local lawnmower repair service might be able to help. Trusty readers might also know of someone.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be e-mailed to sunspots@sunjournal.com.

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