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September 21, 2021

Charted: Will an 'insurance penalty' drive more people to get vaccinated?

Daily Briefing

    A recent poll by Affordable Health Insurance found that a sizable portion of unvaccinated people said they would be motivated to get vaccinated by a health insurance surcharge, like the one implemented by Delta Airlines last month.

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    Delta Airlines paves the way for premium surcharges

    Last month, Delta announced that employees who choose to remain unvaccinated will receive a $200 per month health insurance surcharge to remain on the company's health insurance plan.

    According to Delta, the surcharge protects the company from lost revenue due to unvaccinated employees being hospitalized with Covid-19, and it protects staff and customers by encouraging the unvaccinated to get their shots.

    In the two weeks following Delta's announcement, the company saw almost 20% of its unvaccinated employees get vaccinated, according to Henry Ting, Delta's chief health officer.

    Ting added the company did not see any employee turnover or resignations resulting from the announcement.

    Would insurance surcharges motivate other unvaccinated people?

    To gauge how unvaccinated people feel about insurance surcharges, Affordable Health Insurance polled 1,000 unvaccinated people currently receiving health insurance through their employers from Aug. 31 to Sept. 1.

    Affordable Health Insurance found that nearly 75% of respondents said a health insurance surcharge could motivate them to get vaccinated, with 43% saying a surcharge would definitely motivate them to get vaccinated.

    That response varied by political party, with 58% of Democrat respondents saying a surcharge would motivate them to get vaccinated compared to 36% of Republican respondents, the poll found.

    "As they say, the vaccine is not mandatory, but if people have extra charges with their insurance due to not being vaccinated, people will surely push themselves to be vaccinated," Nick Schrader, insurance agent at Texas General Insurance, said. "In one way, this is good because the vaccine can protect the person and the people around them."

    The poll also found that motivation to get vaccinated due to a monthly insurance surcharge varied by income. People making more than $75,000 per year reported higher motivation to get vaccinated if they received a monthly surcharge than those making less than that threshold.

    The surcharge wouldn't have to be as high as Delta's $200 a month to motivate people to get vaccinated either, the poll found. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they would be motivated to get vaccinated by a monthly surcharge of $100 per month or less.

    In addition, most respondents said implementing a mask mandate for unvaccinated workers would motivate them to get vaccinated, as would losing paid time off for quarantining following a positive Covid-19 test. (Affordable Health Insurance poll, 9/14; Moran, Becker's Hospital Review, 9/16; Jackson, Business Insider, 9/13)

    Webinar recording: Vaccination success stories and mythbusting

    webconJoin Christopher Kerns and Brandi Greenberg as they mythbust erroneous but common misconceptions about national and global vaccine efforts.

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