NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 9, 2004

The chicken pox vaccine has saved the United States about $100 million per year in health care costs, according to a recent study by the University of Michigan published in Pediatrics magazine.

  • As of 2001, hospital bills related to the disease have declined by 59 percent since the vaccine came on the market in 1995.
  • The hospital bill savings were considerable for Medicaid and private insurers, and ultimately for the taxpayers, employers and employees who pay for that coverage.

The savings don't include other chicken pox costs, such as doctor visits, prescription drugs, over-the-counter remedies or lost work time for parents or adult patients -- all of which are also expected to be reduced as a result of the chicken pox vaccine. But the yearly hospital cost savings alone are enough to pay for a large portion of the total cost of vaccinating all American kids against chicken pox, say researchers.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that children over age 12 and adults receive two shots one month apart, which costs about $125. Children under the age of 12 who have never had chicken pox only need one shot. While the vaccination does not provide 100 percent protection against chicken pox, it does greatly decrease the incidence by 70 to 90 percent; those who are vaccinated and still contract the disease will experience a milder form which should not require hospitalization.

Source: Betsy McKay, "Chicken Pox Vaccine Cuts Cost for Hospital Care, Study Shows," Wall Street Journal, September 7, 2004; and Kara Gavin, "Chicken pox vaccine for kids saves society big bucks, and may be protecting adults, too, U-M study finds," University of Michigan Health System, September 7, 2004.

For WSJ text (subscription required):,,SB109450901552410601,00.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal


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