Now that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine and with Moderna’s application submitted employers in both the private and public sectors are trying to figure out how to encourage or mandate employee vaccination. Municipal employers such as New York City mandated all school employees be vaccinated and more and more private sector employers are instituting mandates, at least for office workers, but it is Delta Air Lines that may have set the template moving forward.
In a letter to all employees, Delta CEO Ed Bastian laid out the following timeline for unvaccinated employees:
- Immediately: Mandatory indoor masking
- September 12th: Weekly Covid-19 testing
- September 30th: Loss of pay protection for employees who test positive for the virus and miss work while having to quarantine
- November 1st: Any employee who remains unvaccinated will have to pay an additional $200 per month to remain on the company’s health care plan
“This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company,” Mr. Bastian said. Like most large employers, Delta self-insures so it pays health care costs directly and the Covid-19 costs are significant. Per Mr. Bastian, Covid related hospitalizations cost about $40,000 per person.
Though many holdouts have concerns about government vaccination mandates, and let’s see how the small business lawsuit against New York City plays out, employer based mandates were always the likely outcome. The reason for this is because of health care costs and coverage. Most Americans receive health care through an employer, therefore the increased costs of coverage, as well as the possibility of an outbreak become costly business decisions. Delta laid out a timeline in which the costs are gradually passed on to the individual and away from the company while educating the employee as to the true cost of their choice to remain unvaccinated. It is a very interesting template and fascinating case study moving forward.