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October 2021   Volume 19, Number 10        

Using Health Insurance Discounts to Fight Vaccination Hesitancy

The lure of lower health insurance premiums is enticing some employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

If as experts predict, premiums will be rising substantially soon, any way to lower premium becomes an important consideration.

COVID-19 is highly transmissible — especially its delta variant. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 71.3 percent of American adults have received at least one shot, experts say that 90 percent or more of the total population must be fully vaccinated for the country to reach wide protection.

The disease is expensive to treat. A brief hospital stay in Marietta, Georgia, could cost $17,000; while a 14-day hospitalization in Miami could be $104,000, according to projections by NPR-Kaiser Health News.

To help cover these costs some insurers, like those in Connecticut, are proposing average group rate increases of 7.4 to 15.8 percent.

Employers who want to keep health plan costs and future premium increases low can make vaccination a requirement of employment. However, a less severe option is to offer incentives instead of edicts. That’s why offering employees lower health insurance premiums in exchange for getting vaccinated is gaining traction.

The Affordable Care Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act allow employers to adjust individual insurance costs for:

  • Age
  • Geography
  • Tobacco use
  • Family size

Depending on how many employees are covered, employers may be allowed to modify premiums to offer tax-free incentives. As part of a wellness program, incentives can be as much as 30 percent of the cost of coverage. To exercise this option, employers must allow proof of vaccination to be voluntary and may not conduct the inoculations themselves.

Employers may include health coverage surcharges for employees who don’t want to get vaccinated, though HIPAA and ACA regulations still apply, according to Mercer, a health asset management firm.

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In this issue:

This Just In

How to Determine When Protections Apply to ADA and COVID “Long Haulers”

Make Sure Voluntary Insurance Plans Are Really Voluntary

Is It Possible to Save Too Much for Retirement?

Using Health Insurance Discounts to Fight Vaccination Hesitancy



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