If you’ve been vaccine-hesitant, it might be time to reconsider, since the choice could soon impact your cash on hand.
Despite Baby Dog’s best efforts, only half of the state’s population has chosen to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as of September 1. Thus far, the choice to remain unvaccinated has come with only a few negative consequences. That might be changing.
- We saw at least one big company—Delta—roll out a new COVID policy in August laying out plans to charge unvaccinated employees $200 every month on top of their health insurance premiums. The only way to avoid the surcharge is to provide proof of vaccination. Word on the street is that many insurance companies—including some operating in West Virginia—and employers, are considering similar surcharges to offset the staggering cost of preventable COVID-related medical care.
- Your boss could still decide to say “Get the vaccine or else”—especially since Pfizer’s vaccine received formal FDA approval August 23. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled in support of vaccine mandates. If that were to happen, which would you choose? If the ultimatum meant losing your job, that could have a huge impact on your household budget.
- Health insurance companies agreed early on in the pandemic to cover the cost of COVID testing, vaccines, and medical care related to infections without billing the insured for the portion they would have owed for these services. That has saved Americans billions of dollars over the course of the pandemic, so far. These agreements are ending now that an approved vaccine is widely available, and three-quarters of the largest health care plans will start charging policyholders for the costs related to preventable infections and hospitalizations in the coming months.
- Leisure companies have also started rolling out ultimatums of their own. Show proof of vaccination or don’t cruise, attend concerts, see live shows, or dine in restaurants, with more limitations on the horizon. Surcharges might even find their way into the mix, eventually. Think of the few places smokers are allowed to light up these days and fines imposed for violations, and you get a sense of where these restrictions could be heading.
Vaccines are still free, for now, and the Mon County Health Department makes it easy to get one. They’ll even go right to your business if you can identify at least five people looking to get vaccinated. “It is my hope that more of those people who have said they want to wait and see about the vaccine have reached that point, because now it’s clear that those who are unvaccinated are at the highest risk of infection,” says Dr. Lee Smith, MCHD executive director and county health officer. “I understand that people are fatigued by COVID and they want to blame someone, but it continues to be spread by people who are not vaccinated and not acting in good conscience.”
If you’re unvaccinated and thinking twice about that, all you need is your zip code to use this handy tool to find a vaccine near you.