Chronic allergies are a serious detriment to the quality of life of allergy sufferers. Chronic medication is also a big monthly expense that offers no permanent relief. Allergy shots, on the other hand, provide 8 out of 10 patients with long-term relief from seasonal allergies.
Below, we’ll answer all your essential allergy shot questions: How much do allergy shots cost without insurance, what are the benefits, and are there any viable alternatives?
The Cost Of Allergy Shots Without Insurance
Allergy shots are recurring shots that help people build immunity against an allergen such as dust, pollen, or pet dander.
Without insurance, an allergy shot generally cost up to $100. This doesn’t include the cost of the consultation, the administration, or any other doctor’s visits.
One vial of the allergy serum contains, on average, 10 shots. Because the shots are done weekly, sometimes multiple times a week, the costs can quickly accumulate when you don’t have healthcare insurance. People with severe allergies would also need to have multiple shots per session
So, as an example, a weekly allergy shot over the course of one year can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.
The difference in cost is influenced mostly by location. In the states with the most expensive healthcare, you’ll be paying in the upper margins of the above estimates. For example, New York’s average yearly cost for allergy shots is $4,000 to $5,000.
Another influence on price is time. Allergy shots work by slowly introducing the allergen to the body and building immunity over time. It’s a slow process and can take between 3 to 5 years to become completely effective. For someone without insurance, committing to such a long-term expense might not always be viable.
Fortunately, it’s not all bad. As you gain immunity, you won’t have to take as many allergy shots. In later years, your weekly shots can become bi-monthly shots with fewer shots per session so the costs will lessen over time.
The Cost Of Administration
Besides the immunotherapy serum, you also have to pay for the administration of the allergy shot. This fee includes the cost of the equipment, the preparation of the allergy serum, and the doctors or nurse administering the shot.
On average, the shot administration will cost between $20 to $30 per visit.
The two biggest influences on the administration cost are the number of shots you take and who administered the shot.
If you need multiple shots during your visit, the cost of the administration is higher. It’s also more expensive to have a doctor administer the allergy shot than it is to have a nurse do it.
Luckily, you can opt to administer the shot yourself at home. Then you’ll only have to pay for the serum and not the weekly shots. To do this, you’ll need to know injection procedures and safety protocols. The qualifications might also differ from state to state and clinic to clinic.
If you can’t afford the weekly cost of injections without insurance, administering the shots yourself is an easy way to save money.
The Benefits Of Allergy Shots
Now that you know what the costs of allergy shots are, it’s easier to weigh the pros and cons and decide whether it’s the right choice for you.
Significantly Reduce Allergies
People who suffer from allergies are often on chronic medication. Not only is the medication expensive but getting the medication, taking it, and constantly treating the symptoms can be exhausting.
With allergy shots, you can significantly reduce your reaction to allergens. Allergy shots treat the cause of the issue via immunotherapy. The immune system slowly learns to manage irritants and adapts, leaving severe allergy sufferers with more manageable symptoms and reactions.
Works On Many Types Of Allergies
When most people think of allergies, they think of a simple pollen reaction with a stuffy nose. But if you suffer from chronic allergies, you know that pollen only scratches the surface of the list of allergens.
One of the biggest benefits of allergy shots is that they work on just more than basic allergic reactions.
Immunotherapy can help manage a host of reaction types, including:
- Insect venom reactions
- Allergic rhinitis/seasonal allergies/hay fever
- Indoor irritants
However, note that allergy shots are not effective against food allergies and skin reactions.
Chronic medication is an expensive monthly cost and many have adverse side effects like drowsiness. Allergy medications also only provide relief from the symptoms instead of reducing the body’s reaction to irritants.
Allergy shots are a convenient alternative for those with severe allergies. They treat the cause of the allergies by increasing your body’s tolerance of an allergen. Thus, they lessen your dependence on oral allergy medication that may have been a lifelong daily commitment.
Because allergy shots slowly introduce allergens to the system to build up resistance, they’ve also become a viable option for parents looking to treat or prevent allergies in children. This type of treatment is only available for children over the age of five.
Savings For The Long Term
As we mentioned above, allergy shots can make quite a dent in your budget. The serum and the administration are weekly costs not many people can afford. While this upfront cost is higher than normal over-the-counter medicine, there is no doubt that it will save you money in the long run.
Instead of spending a lifetime relieving symptoms with over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medicine, allergy shots work as a short-term investment with long-term gains.
If you add all the money you spend on allergy medication over your lifetime and compare them to the cost of getting allergy shots, allergy shots are the clear budget winner.
With any type of medication, it’s necessary to consider the disadvantages. Here are the downsides of allergy shots.
High Upfront Cost
Without healthcare insurance, the weekly cost of allergy shots quickly takes its toll. One of the biggest barriers to people receiving injections is the high upfront cost.
One trip to the doctor and one serum might not feel like much, but it can add up in the first month, especially if you live in a state with more expensive healthcare.
For many people, it may be more affordable in the present to stay on their chronic prescriptions or OTC medication than receive the shots.
All medication comes with possible side effects and allergy shots are no different.
The most common side effects after receiving allergy shots are redness and swelling. Pain and heat around the injection spot can also occur. More severe reactions include itching and hives. You might also experience dizziness and some shortness of breath.
The mortality rate of allergy shots is extremely low.
All in all, these side effects are pretty rare, even the more common ones.
Side effects tend to show up around 30 minutes after the shot has been administered, so it’s important to wait with your doctor or nurse until you receive a clean bill of health.
If you administer the allergy shots yourself, we’d recommend having someone present in case you react to the medication.
The time commitment allergy shots require cannot be understated. The first 2 years will demand weekly shots, usually at the same time every week. If you have to do multiple shots a week, it gets even harder.
You also have to sacrifice 30 minutes every session to ensure you’re not reacting to the shot.
Are There Alternatives?
If you can’t commit to allergy shots, we have a few alternatives.
The first option is antihistamines. If you’re considering allergy shots, you’re likely familiar with antihistamines and their effectiveness. If you are using OTC antihistamines with no effect, visit a doctor for prescription-grade allergy medication.
The second option is sublingual immunotherapy. This is the best option for people who find medication isn’t working but can’t afford the time commitment of allergy shots.
There are two main types of sublingual immunotherapy: drops and tablets. They work the same as allergy shots by slowly introducing the allergens to your body. But instead of having to get shots, you can take a tablet or drops orally.
The tablets aren’t as effective as the drops and don’t work on as many allergens. They can also only treat one allergy at a time.
Both of the above options can be administered from your home and don’t require more than a doctor’s visit.
Allergy shots have become an effective method for treating chronic allergies but the cost and time commitment have been a barrier to some. Now that you know more about allergy shots, their cost, and the pros and cons, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on your treatment path.
Most healthcare insurers offer allergy shots with no copay, which is a big win. If you need low to no-income health insurance options, contact Enhance Health. Our licensed insurance representatives will guide you to a comprehensive health insurance option that fits your budget.