For many it might seem that the world is in the last stages of the global pandemic which caused mass disruption and claimed many lives. However, private companies are now taking the lead on enforcing greater health mandates for their workers.
This comes as the U.S. struggles to convince more people to get the Covid-19 vaccine, leaving many others vulnerable to infection.
The Costs of Not Taking a Vaccine
The U.S. travel ban which began in early 2020 is still in effect, which prohibits or severely limits travel from certain countries deemed ‘high risk’ for Covid-19. But recent announcements suggest the ban may be lifting soon, leading many business owners to take enforcement of inoculation into their own hands.
One famous example of this is Delta Airlines who announced it will charge unvaccinated employees $200 more for their monthly health plans. According to the company, this is due to the rising costs of hospitalization within the U.S. Other companies and health insurers have or are expected to follow suit, with many private employers looking for ways to penalize those who skip the needle.
But there is a limit to how far these ‘economic punishments’ can go. The Affordable Care Act passed in 2014 prohibits companies from charging higher for health plans based on pre-existing conditions. The one exception to the rule is smoking.
Studies show that unvaccinated people are more at risk for severe cases of Covid-19 which require special medical attention. Data from the Ohio Department of Health shows that more than 96% of hospitalizations in the state were for unvaccinated patients with the illness.
Higher premiums are not so significant compared to average hospital costs for patients infected with the coronavirus. Depending on age and health, these costs could vary between $34,000 to $45,000.
A Risky Trip to the U.S.
The lack of space and medical attention due to the overwhelming need to address unvaccinated cases of Covid-19 makes the US a travel risk for foreigners. Coronavirus-related health insurance for visitors to the United States could protect against sudden infection and its related costs.
Not to mention the burden on these institutions as well as the need to address more serious conditions which may or may not be accommodated. The U.S. healthcare system subsidized more than $6 billion between last June and August. According to Kelly O’Reilly, President of the Ohio Association of Health Plans, companies are now looking toshare some of that cost with consumers who refuse protection against the disease.
“Employers are looking at it as an incentive to get their employees vaccinated. I also think it is an attempt to get control of some of the costs related to Covid,” she said. “I think they’re looking to keep their employees safe, to keep their businesses operating and then, to keep costs down.”
Currently the U.S. requires proof of a negative Covid test for all incoming passengers, including U.S. citizens with 72 hours of departure. Travelers may also present a positive test with a note from a healthcare provider stating that the patient is ok for travel.
Additionally, the U.S. requires all foreign visitors to be fully vaccinated with one of the approved vaccines. These include Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The World Health Organization also recognized those byAstraZeneca and Sinovac, but others such as Russia’s Sputnik V are still under review.