COVID-19: Employers offer incentives, increase health care costs to sway employees to get vaccinated

ByMelanie Woodrow KGO logo
Friday, August 27, 2021
COVID-19: Employers charge higher premiums for unvaccinated employees
From vaccine mandates to incentives, employers are doing what they can to encourage employees to get vaccinated.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- From vaccine mandates to incentives, employers are doing what they can to encourage employees to get vaccinated.

Delta Airlines announced a $200 dollar per month premium for unvaccinated employees to cover steep COVID costs like hospitalizations.

The new policy was likely driven by insurers no long offering waivers for COVID-19 treatments as companies did early in the pandemic.

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"All the money that goes into healthcare is not going into their business, so it is absolutely a concern for these companies and adding on an extra several billion dollars to care for unvaccinated employees is just really not tenable," said Elizabeth Mitchell, Purchaser Business Group on Health CEO.

Purchaser Business Group on Health is a nonprofit coalition that represents private employers and public entities navigating purchasing health care.

Mitchell says more than 13 of the group's members, including Disney, have announced vaccine mandates.

With the cost of hospitalizations for unvaccinated COVID treatments at more than $2 billion in June and July alone, Mitchell says she expects more employers will follow in Delta's footsteps.

"These companies are self-insured so they are paying these bills," said Mitchell. "They know that not being vaccinated and incurring unnecessary hospitalization costs is also hitting their bottom line and that comes out of wages and job growth and American families."

VIDEO: Delta Air Lines will make unvaccinated employees pay $200 monthly charge

COVID-19 vaccination rates in the U.S. hit a new six-week high as hospitals in several states are struggling.

According to Mitchell $200 per month doesn't come close to the full cost of an average hospitalization for an unvaccinated COVID patient, which she estimates is more than $50,000.

"It is however an important signal that you will bear more of the cost if you choose not to become vaccinated," said Mitchell.

Especially for employers or employees who may have been holding out until full FDA approval.

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In a memo to employees, Delta's CEO referenced that wait-and-see approach, writing, "the time for you to get vaccinated is now."

It's a new strategy aimed at incentivizing workers who may still be reluctant.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC7 News

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