It was an activity that was supposed to save us time, but it almost ended up costing us money. With cooler weather and colorful trees it's quite evident that its fall, which means it's also time to get our yearly influenza vaccine. 

My wife works for the public school district, which holds a flu vaccine clinic for its employees and their families each October.

My wife would get her shot for free as an employee, but since flu vaccines are covered by our insurance 100% as a preventative medicine visit we decided to go and get it over with as a family. The clinic was after school at my son's high school, so the time and place were very convenient. We filled out the forms, and waited in line. 

When we reached the first clinic representative, she looked at my insurance information and asked what method of payment we were going to use for our copay.

Raising an eyebrow, I stated that my insurance covers flu vaccines 100%. 

She shook her head and noted that the clinic would be considered out of network for my insurance, and that copay would be necessary. 

My kids and I exited the line and sat down at a table while my wife finished getting her shot.

When we returned, she apologized saying that the literature given to her at work was misleading. Showing me the document, it said simply said, "Flu shot clinic open to employees and their families." The paper didn't say anything about hers being free and ours being run through insurance.

Walking to the car, I noted that on the way home we would be passing by the fast care clinic where we normally get our flu shot. We stopped by and the rest of the family got our vaccine in a matter of minutes.

During flu shot season, many employers, corner drug stores, and even big box retailers with pharmacies such as Walmart and Target offer flu shots. Given my experience, make sure you keep the following things in mind before you go somewhere to get your flu shot:

1. Know how your insurance categorizes and covers flu vaccines both in network and out of network

2. Know what would be considered in network and out of network

3. If your employer is offering a flu shot clinic, find out if they will be billing insurance or if they are provided complementary.

Knowing these three basic pieces of information ahead of time will help you avoid running into a situation such as I did, or even worse, getting a bill for a flu shot that should have been covered under your insurance.

Have you received your flu shot yet this year?

Related Links:

Taking Care of Delayed Expenses

Infrequent Expenses Should NOT be Emergencies

Can you Budget for Medical Expenses? Of course you can!

Travis Pizel, debt management plan customer with leading provider of debt relief, CareOne Services, Inc. Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the A Straight Talk on Debt blog. He is also a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis candidly shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he’s learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family in Minnesota. You can also read more from Travis on the Enemy of Debt blog, where he is a featured blogger. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

You can follow Travis on Twitter @DebtChronicles