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Some employers adding insurance surcharges for unvaccinated employees

Posted at 11:44 AM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 12:44:30-04

First, it was the carrot approach for companies; now, they’re turning to the stick.

While monetary incentives, days off, and encouragement have run their course, many employers are still trying to nudge their workers toward a shot.

Now, some are turning to added insurance surcharges for those who choose to forgo the vaccine.

“It’s really caught fire within the last couple of weeks,” said Wade Symons, a resources group leader at asset-management firm Mercer. “We’re talking about $20 to $25 per paycheck, is sort of the numbers I’ve heard.”

Symons said the high end had been $50 for companies considering the surcharge, and he’s heard from around 30–40 companies so far seeking guidance on the surcharge. It’s not necessarily new, and Symons says that as long as the charge isn’t so high as to be considered coercive, companies are well within their right to implement it.

“They have in the past with things like a smoker’s surcharge, a wellness incentive or surcharge,” he said. “They are courses of action that employers have taken for a number of years, and this is just kind of the next step.”

Symons wouldn’t disclose which companies have inquired to Mercer about the surcharge but said they’re cornered in industries that require workers right now to function.

“Manufacturing, distribution, retail, hospitality, restaurant…” he said. “I just was talking to a large restaurant chain this morning about this concept.”

Companies that insure employees, whether independently or through a large provider, could see their costs or premiums rise the more claims they have to payout.

“We see hospital claims for COVID in the $50,000 range,” said Symons. “There’s some justification in the employer's mind that if you have the potential to cost us more, then you should pay more.”

Doug Reardon with WXMI first reported this story.

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