Delta Air Lines wants its unvaccinated workers to get their shot in the worst way. Instead of offering a carrot, the airline company will bring out a stick. Yesterday, Delta announced that all unvaccinated workers will need to pay a surcharge of $200 per month for their health insurance.
In addition, unvaccinated workers might lose pay protection for absent days due to COVID-19.
Penalizing Unvaccinated Workers
Delta’s decision is one of the first attempts of private companies to enforce vaccine mandates through the threat of penalties. Previously, many companies and government agencies offered incentives such as days off, cash bonuses, or improved working arrangements.
With the Food and Drug Administration issuing full approval to the Pfizer /BioNTech COVID vaccine, companies are now emboldened to enforce stricter mandates.
The airline company’s approach instead focuses on the financial burden of Covid-19 and aims to transfer it to those resisting vaccination. Studies show vaccination greatly reduces the risk of severe disease or death from the disease.
Additional Financial Risk For Unvaccinated Workers
In this case, unvaccinated Delta employees will have to pay the increased risk created by COVID-19. According to Delta CEO Ed Bastian, the $200 monthly charge addresses “the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company.”
The money will help Delta cover hospital stays that unvaccinated employees who contract COVID-19 will likely need. Bastian said that each person hospitalized for COVID-19 can cost the company as much as $50,000.
In the last few weeks before the mandate, Delta workers who checked into the hospital for COVID mostly had incomplete vaccinations. Delta as a company remains self-insured.
This means that the actual costs of weekly testing and getting hospitalized for COVID-19 will far exceed the $200 premium, according to Dr. Henry Ting, Delta’s chief health officer.
Growing Pressure For Vaccine Mandates
Meanwhile, pressure mounts as the government calls on private companies to mandate vaccines. The FDA approval marked a starting point for many institutions.
“I know some of you may be taking a wait-and-see approach or waiting for full FDA approval. With this week’s announcement that the FDA has granted full approval for the Pfizer vaccine, the time for you to get vaccinated is now,” Bastian wrote Delta employees.
At the same time, executives from across Delta’s various departments agreed on the $200 copay. They hoped the amount would nudge unvaccinated workers into seeing how expensive not getting a vaccine is. “We felt there was an accountability unvaccinated people should be sharing in,” Dr. Ting said.
Flight Crews Have Highest Rates of Vaccinations
So far, the company’s vaccination efforts remain smooth. The company’s pilots and flight attendants are the highest vaccinated group, with around an 85% completion rate.
Meanwhile, the rates drop among technical operations employees, especially those in Georgia. A day following the Delta announcement, employees lining up for shots tripled in number.
In addition, Dr. Ting said he supports changing unvaccinated workers’ minds by making them see the benefits. He also finds using the older method of imposing deadlines on non-compliant employees unreliable.
Vaccinated Vs Unvaccinated
However, the new approach does not make the entire COVID-19 situation any less safe. With cases continuing to climb, many vaccinated Americans are already beginning to resent their counterparts.
They blame them for the increased number of new cases as well as for overcrowding of medical systems. HItting the unvaccinated workers’ pockets might be enough to drop down all opposition.
Watch the CNBC Television video reporting that Delta Airlines’ unvaccinated employees will face a $200 monthly surcharge on health insurance:
Do you agree with Delta Air Lines’ rule to impose a $200 surcharge on unvaccinated workers’ health insurance costs? Do you think this is fair to both vaccinated and unvaccinated workers?
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