Houston man claims he was denied COVID-19 vaccine for not having insurance

A man said he was denied a COVID-19 vaccine because he did not have insurance

HOUSTON – A Houston man said he was turned away at his vaccine appointment because he lacked insurance.

Antonio Flores told KPRC 2 that he had been searching for a COVID-19 vaccine for more than a month. Walgreens, Walmart, Sam’s, and CVS are some of the stores Flores said he checked. Finally, he got an appointment at Kroger Pharmacy off Voss Road near Briargrove. He said his appointment was scheduled for March 15 at noon.

Flores said he drove 30 miles from his home near Ellington. While inside the grocery store, Flores said one of the first things the pharmacist asked him was for his insurance card.

“I tell her that I didn’t have insurance, but she kept asking for my insurance because she want to find a way to bill,” he said. “And then, I explained again that the website says we don’t need insurance to get the COVID vaccine.”

Kroger’s vaccination website does not mention the need to bring insurance. According to the CDC, the federal government is providing it free of charge to everyone living in the U.S. regardless of their immigration or health insurance status. The CDC also said providers cannot deny a vaccination to anyone who does not have health insurance coverage or is under-insured or out of network.

Flores said he left the store that day without his vaccine shot.

“The lady kept asking the same thing and I got really mad and sad, and so, I decided to leave the store.”

Flores said he immediately filed an online complaint with the grocery chain’s customer service department. He shared copies of the email exchange with KPRC 2, which shows the company apologizing for his experience.

Kroger told KPRC 2 that it was an isolated incident. The spokeswoman said the pharmacist had asked the customer for multiple forms of documentation, which they said he could not provide. The spokeswoman said there was a way the pharmacist could have worked around that situation, allowing Mr. Flores to receive his vaccine. The company said they would like to make things right with him since their goal is to help get as many people vaccinated as possible.

Flores said he was lucky to have received an alert about a vaccine opening closer to his home. He said he received his first Pfizer shot on Thursday in League City.