Delta is raising the cost of its health insurance to cover COVID infections.
With the full FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, companies around the United States are starting to lean more readily toward mandating vaccinations in all of their employees. Airlines, in parituclar, need to play it extremely safe, lest another outbreak cripple their business yet again. Some airlines have already begun imposing mandates, while others, such as Delta Airlines, have opted to steer their employees toward vaccination in another way.
In an announcement to employees on Wednesday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said that starting November 1, all employees that have declined to receive a COVID-19 vaccination (verifiable medical excuses presumably notwithstanding), will see a $200 premium increase in their company-issued health insurance. According to Bastian, this change is a preventative measure that would allow the company to cover the costs of a potential COVID-19 infection in an unvaccinated employee. In addition to this rule, unvaccinated employees are also required to wear masks at all times indoors and submit to weekly COVID screenings.
Delta Airlines imposes $200 monthly surcharge on unvaccinated staff https://t.co/7WtsJMT2lN
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) August 25, 2021
“The average hospital stay for COVID-19 has cost Delta $50,000 per person,” Bastian said in an employee memo. “This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company. In recent weeks since the rise of the B.1.617.2 variant, all Delta employees who have been hospitalized with COVID were not fully vaccinated.”
The memo also added that, starting September 30, “in compliance with state and local laws, COVID pay protection will only be provided to fully vaccinated individuals who are experiencing a breakthrough infection.”
Bastian clarified that approximately 75% of all of Delta’s workforce has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and for good reason, as the “aggressiveness of the [delta] variant means we need to get many more of our people vaccinated, and as close to 100 percent as possible.”