Don't want a vaccine? Be prepared to pay more for insurance

Getting hospitalized with Covid-19 in the United States typically generates huge bills. Those submitted by Covid patients to the NPR-Kaiser Health News “Bill of the Month” project include a $17,000 bill for a brief hospital stay in Marietta, GA (reduced to about $4,000 for an uninsured patient under a “charity care” policy); a $104,000 bill for a fourteen-day hospitalization in Miami for an uninsured man; possibly hundreds of thousands for a two-week hospital stay — some of it on a ventilator — for a foreign tourist in Hawaii whose travel health insurance contained a “pandemic exclusion.”…

The Affordable Care Act allows insurers to charge smokers up to 50 percent more than what nonsmokers pay for some types of health plans. Four-fifths of states in the U.S. follow that protocol, though most employer-based plans do not do so. In 49 states, people who are caught driving without auto insurance face fines, confiscation of their car, loss of their license and even jail. And reckless drivers pay more for insurance.

The logic behind the policies is that the offenders’ behavior can hurt others and costs society a lot of money. If a person decides not to get vaccinated and contracts a bad case of Covid, they are not only exposing others in their workplace or neighborhoods; the tens or hundreds of thousands spent on their care could mean higher premiums for others as well in their insurance plans next year. What’s more, outbreaks in low-vaccination regions could help breed more vaccine-resistant variants that affect everyone.

Yes, we often cover people whose habits may have contributed to their illness — insurance regularly pays for drug and alcohol rehab and cancer treatment for smokers.