More and more employers and insurance companies are considering increasing the health insurance premiums for employees who do not need a vaccination.
Starting November, Delta Airlines will be charging unvaccinated employees an additional $ 200 for the company health plan as it cites the high cost of COVID hospital stays.
“It’s similar to what’s already happening in smokers,” said Tom Campanella, Healthcare Executive in Residence at Baldwin Wallace University.
Unvaccinated Americans are at greater risk of developing severe cases of the virus. Data from the Ohio Department of Health shows that in 2021, unvaccinated Ohio residents will account for more than 96% of hospital admissions for COVID-19.
The average amount US hospitals charge for the stay of a COVID-19 patient ranges from $ 34,662 for people aged 23-30 to $ 45,683 for people aged 51 to 60 a study by FAIR Health.
A report by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that preventable hospital admissions for COVID among unvaccinated Americans cost the healthcare system nearly $ 6 billion between June and August.
“It all ends up somehow back in the premiums,” said Campanella. “Somebody has to pay these costs.”
Some companies choose to shift the burden of these costs from all employees to only those who choose not to vaccinate.
For companies like Delta, which don’t require vaccination for employees, this can also incentivize more employees to get the vaccination.
“Employers see it as an incentive to have their employees vaccinated. I also think it’s an attempt to get some of the costs associated with COVID under control, ”said Kelly O’Reilly, president and CEO of the Ohio Association of Health Plans, the trade association that represents 15 health insurance companies in Ohio .
O’Reilly and Campanella said self-insured companies could more easily increase premiums for unvaccinated employees.
“I think they want to protect their employees, keep their businesses going, and then keep costs down,” said O’Reilly.