Employers are beginning to tack on a special surcharge of $20 to $50 a month to their unvaccinated workers, according to one of the nation’s largest health benefits consultancies.
To date, employers have offered gift cards, a day off from work, cash and other financial incentives to convince their workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
But the carrot approach is about to be joined by a stick that could cost employees up to $50 a month, according to Mercer, the large employee benefits consultancy that works with thousands of employers around the world.
“Employers have tried encouraging employees to get vaccinated through offering incentives like paid time off and cash, but with the Delta variant driving up infections and hospitalizations throughout the country – at the same time that vaccination rates have stalled – we have received inquiries from at least 20 employers over the past few weeks who are giving consideration to adding health coverage surcharges for the unvaccinated as a way to drive up vaccination rates in their workforce,” said Wade Symons, Mercer’s regulatory resources group leader.
Mercer isn’t disclosing the names of companies working on the surcharges but said the amount of the surcharge being discussed with these employers is akin to the $20 to $50 a month charges companies already charge workers who smoke. Aside from a public health reason to encourage vaccination and keep workers and their families healthy, there is also a financial reason. Covid-19 can lead to serious illness and an expensive hospital stay that costs the worker and company-paid insurance, triggering premium increases as well.