Due to the combination of the highly contagious Delta variant and the number of people who remain unvaccinated, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths remain more than twice as high as the same time last year. But not all of the news is bad. Here are five things about COVID-19 you need to know now.
1. Third vaccine shots, also known as booster shots, are now available to certain people.
To help people who are moderate to severely immune-compromised. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that these individuals receive the third shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC recommends a third dose of the same vaccine for people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems and at least six months after their second dose. Who received a primary course of two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for the booster shot. If you initially received either the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you are currently not eligible for a booster shot. The FDA and CDC expect to review the safety and effectiveness of booster doses of these vaccines in the coming months.
The NJ Department of Health is planning to reopen certain mega-sites for the administration of booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to those eligible. Additional details will be shared as they are available. Retail pharmacies are already offering booster doses to those eligible.
2. Although the Delta variant is causing more COVID-19 infections, vaccines are still highly effective.
According to the NJ Department of Health, the Delta variant has become the most common strain of COVID-19, accounting for 98.4 percent of COVID-19 cases tested in August. According to the CDC, the Delta variant is more contagious, may cause more severe illness, and has resulted in more fully vaccinated people getting COVID-19 (breakthrough infections).
3. Employers with self-funded health plans are increasingly imposing a surcharge on unvaccinated employees.
COVID-19 vaccines have been widely available for some time now. Yet, according to the Mayo Clinic, only 56 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. Aside from the human toll, the collective cost of hospitalizations for unvaccinated adults is staggering, according to the Peterson-KKF Health System Tracker. According to the organization’s estimates, the cost of hospitalizing unvaccinated adults in June through August 2021 was $5.7 billion.
The organization’s evaluation of different sources revealed an average adult hospitalization cost of about $20,000. The average out-of-pocket costs for patients was roughly $1,300.
The rest of the hefty tab is paid by public and private insurance, thus ultimately by taxpayers, businesses and everyone with health insurance. To encourage more employees to get vaccinated and cite the steep costs of covering employees hospitalized with COVID-19, some employers with self-funded health coverage have begun making unvaccinated employees pay an additional surcharge.
4. Some COVID-19 tests are not covered by health insurance.
If your doctor determines that you should be tested for COVID-19 – either because you have symptoms or you had been exposed to someone who’s been infected, out-of-pocket costs for testing will be waived.
However, if you need to be tested as part of a “return-to-work” program, attend an event like a concert, or comply with travel guidelines, these tests are not covered, and 100% of the cost may be your responsibility.
Cosmo Insurance Agency is a full-service independent insurance agency based in Hackensack (Bergen County) and Lakewood (Ocean County), New Jersey that offers an all-encompassing range of insurance options for both individuals and businesses. Cosmo keeps its promise to assure an efficient and creative approach to the services we offer. Each of our clients experience a personalized and long-term relationship with us. Our New Jersey based team of health brokers guides our clients in helping them choose the most cost-effective options. By incorporating our knowledge of the insurance guidelines for healthcare, employee benefits, life insurance, self-insurance, dental, disability, and long term care insurance, we keep our clients up-to-date with affordable plans that cover all their specific insurance needs.