NFL to teams: If your unvaxxed players cause a game to be canceled and it can't be rescheduled, you forfeit

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There are two ways a business can incentivize vaccination. One is on the front end, by requiring it as a condition of employment or inducing it with the promise of a bonus. The other is on the back end, with penalties if an employee’s refusal to get vaccinated hurts the business somehow.

People get to choose what they want to do but those choices come with consequences. Personal responsibility.

The NFL is demanding that teams and their players take personal responsibility for any scheduling snafus caused by COVID this fall by accepting surprisingly severe penalties if they do.

That puts a ton of pressure on unvaccinated players. Not only are they inactive for 10 days if they test positive, they’re taking money out of their teammates’ pockets if a game ends up being canceled because of them. They’re already weighing the consequences:

Do the Bills still want Cole Beasley on their roster after seeing that? Beasley tweeted last month that he won’t get vaccinated, saying “I may die of covid, but I’d rather die actually living.” If I’m forced to retire because the league won’t let me suit up until I’m vaxxed then so be it, he added. Turns out they’ll let him suit up; they’re just going to make him a massive potential liability to his team if he causes an outbreak that infects a bunch of Buffalo players shortly before game day.

His principled anti-vax position sounded less principled a few days ago:

Mark Cuban saw that tweet and offered to give Beasley’s wife a single share of Pfizer stock (worth about 40 bucks) if he’ll get immunized. That’s not going to convince him, but maybe the prospect of his teammates blaming him for causing them to miss the playoffs will.

Beasley being Beasley, I wonder if his solution won’t be to go out and try to get infected right now so that he can gain immunity the old-fashioned way before the season begins.

While we’re on the subject of incentivizing vaccination via penalties for refusing, here’s a clip that’s going mega-viral on Twitter today. Gaze into the abyss:

Jonathan Last wonders why members of this guy’s health insurance pool should be on the hook for his gigantic and avoidable hospital bill. In an America where ObamaCare didn’t exist and a person’s insurance rates were still a function of their particular health risk to the company, shouldn’t he either be (a) uninsurable until he gets vaccinated or (b) paying gigantic premiums to help defray the cost of foreseeable hospital care his decision resulted in?

I hope he has health insurance. And if he does, he’ll pay some out-of-pocket minimum to meet his deductible. Then the insurer will reach a negotiated settlement with the hospital. And then, next year, the insurance company will pass on the costs of that large payment to the rest of its customers.

The people in the insurance pool who got the vaccine will pick up the tab for the treatment of the people who got sick after refusing to get the vaccine.

That’s conservative, rugged individualism, circa 2021.

And it’s a pretty sweet deal, too. You can make whatever damn fool choices you want, and someone else—the hospital, your insurance company, your neighbors paying into the insurance pool—will pick up the tab.

Personal responsibility is a glorious thing.

I actually can’t blame ObamaCare for the massive moral hazard described by Last. O-Care does allow insurers to charge people higher premiums for a particular behavior they engage in that raises their risk of a serious health crisis. Specifically, it allows states to let insurers charge smokers up to 50 percent more each month than non-smokers. Why shouldn’t the unvaccinated pay a similar surcharge? It would be tied to age too, of course. Young healthy people who haven’t gotten their shots but are unlikely to end up in the ER pay a little extra. Older people who haven’t gotten their shots and are prime COVID-bait pay a lot extra.

The counterargument to that is what about obesity? That’s also a behavior that’s more likely to end in a major health crisis. Should insurers charge obese people higher premiums? To which I say: Shouldn’t they? If insurance is a function of risk then logically someone at greater risk pays a higher rate. Personal responsibility, right? But if you’re squeamish at the thought of 42 percent of the population suddenly being on the hook for higher health-care expenses each month, here’s a way to let the obese off the hook: We won’t hike their premiums, but if and when science develops a free double-dose shot that eliminates the risks of serious health problems from obesity and they refuse to take it, then they have to pay more.

Because that’s the better analogy. Everyone in America is at risk of being infected by COVID and requiring ER care because of it (although those risks vary by age and health, of course). You can all but end that risk at no cost to yourself by accepting a widely available inoculation. If smokers and the obese in our insurance pool had that same option, we’d be incensed if they continued to court disaster and mammoth hospital bills by declining to get that shot. Yet no one’s seriously arguing that the unvaccinated are in the same position and should bear the same consequences. They’re deliberately sticking their insurance pool with major risk and suffering no penalty at all for it.

One Twitter pal asked me today whether insurers should have to cover the cost if you get vaccinated and develop some side effect that requires medical care. Uh, yes? They already do, unless I’ve missed something. If insurers could snap their fingers and get every one of their customers vaccinated knowing that X number of those customers would need treatment for some vaccine side effect or another, they’d do it in an instant. Because the number needing care for vaccine complications is both much smaller and much less severe than the number of unvaccinated COVID patients whose hospital stays they’re currently paying for. They’d save gobs of money by getting everyone immunized. Which, of course, is why other vaccinations like the flu shot are completely covered with no co-pay. They’re desperate for you to get the shot. Each person who gets vaccinated potentially saves them a truckload of dough by staying out of the hospital.

In lieu of an exit question, read this. There is a way to persuade some unvaccinated people to get their shots, it turns out.