As the Delta variant continues to drive a surge in COVID-19 cases, some companies consider charging unvaccinated workers more for their health insurance.
More employers have required vaccine mandates after Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, gained full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Employers that have a large group health insurance plan might carry the brunt of the insurance cost if their employees were hospitalized for COVID-19. For small group health insurance, premiums for the whole company could be subject to increases the following year.
Additionally, employers who use group health insurance plans may pay all or just a portion of the premium cost. They can choose how much of that cost to pass off to employees and adjust it as insurance costs fluctuate.
But can employers increase health insurance premiums specifically for unvaccinated employees? The short answer is NO!
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, companies can implement incentives and surcharges through company wellness programs as long as they comply with nondiscrimination rules.
Many employers have wellness programs that encourage people to adopt healthy lifestyle practices, like offering gym memberships or reducing their insurance premiums if they receive a physical every year. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, these programs must be voluntary, though there is some controversy about what that means.
On the other hand, health insurance plans are regulated by several rules that make it very difficult for insurers to charge different premiums based on one’s health status factors.
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