Is it rational to get a flu shot? I had to go to the doctor recently, and while I was there they offered, and I accepted, a flu shot. Then I found out my insurance doesn’t pay for it.
I know the arguments in favor of getting the shot, which are fairly self-evident and persuasive. But if my insurance company is willing to take the risk of paying for my health care if I get sick, but not for the shot itself, then it appears the shot has a lower expected value than not getting the shot.
Or is the flu an illness where the insurance carrier covers comparatively little cost, because it is viral and they won’t have to cover the cost of medicine and the odds of hospitalization are low, while the ill person, of course, pays the cost of being horribly miserable?
Obviously there’s a collective action problem here as well. There’s some critical mass of immunizations that will make it unlikely that very many people at all get the flu, and my decision to get the shot won’t be the critical contribution, so there’s some logic to free riding. But I’m more interested here in comparing my personal EV to the insurance company’s EV calculation. Do they know something I don’t know?