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Vivian Lam
By Vivian Lam January 19, 2022

No, Blue Cross Blue Shield physicians aren't paid a bonus to meet a vaccine quota

If Your Time is short

  • An Instagram post falsely claims that Blue Cross Blue Shield is paying pediatricians a bonus to vaccinate a percentage of patients in their practice,

  • Providers are paid for overall performance in a number of services in addition to vaccines.

Misleading claims that Blue Cross Blue Shield is paying doctors to meet child vaccination quotas have been spreading across social media.

"Blue Cross Blue Shield pays your doctor a $40,000 bonus for fully vaccinating at least 100 patients under the age of two," an Instagram post claimed. "Under Blue Cross Blue Shield's rules, pediatricians lose the whole bonus unless at least 63% of patients are fully vaccinated, and that includes the flu vaccine. So it's not just $400 on your child's head — it could be the whole bonus. To your doctor, your decision to vaccinate your child might be worth $40,000, or much more, depending on the size of his or her practice."

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Blue Cross Blue Shield is an association of 35 independent U.S. health insurance companies. The association does not provide bonuses for vaccinating a set number of child patients.

"Every (Blue Cross Blue Shield) company sets its own value-based contracts with local providers," said a Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesperson. "The purpose of any performance-based incentives, where they exist, is to reward implementation of well-established evidence-based best practices in the care of our members. While vaccinations may fall into that category, they would not be the sole performance measure. Any incentives cover a broad collection of best practices."

"As always, decisions around whether to vaccinate ultimately rest with the provider and the patient (and) parent," said the spokesperson.

Childhood vaccines are considered standard medical practice. The American Academy of Pediatrics "strongly recommends immunizations as the safest and most cost-effective way of preventing disease, disability, and death." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also encourages parents to immunize their children against preventable and potentially life-threatening disease, providing a schedule of standard vaccinations given to children starting at birth and going up to age 18.

Blue Cross Blue Shield chief medical officer Vincent Nelson told Lead Stories, "Physicians (and) providers can be incentivized through their work with independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies, but the implication in this post that physicians (and) providers pursue childhood vaccinations solely for financial reasons is false."

We rate this claim False.

Our Sources

Instagram post, Dec. 12, 2021

Blue Cross Blue Shield, BCBS® Companies and Licensees, Accessed Jan. 16, 2022

Email interview, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Jan. 19, 2022

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, The Standards for Pediatric Immunization Practice, Accessed Jan. 16, 2022

American Academy of Pediatrics, Immunizations, Accessed Jan. 16, 2022

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Making the Vaccine Decision: Addressing Common Concerns, Accessed Jan. 16, 2022

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Table 1. Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule for ages 18 years or younger, United States, 2021, Accessed Jan. 16, 2022

Lead Stories, Fact Check: Blue Cross Blue Shield Does NOT Pay Doctors A Bonus Only For Number of Children Vaccinated, Dec. 3, 2020

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No, Blue Cross Blue Shield physicians aren't paid a bonus to meet a vaccine quota

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