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VERIFY: Could unvaccinated people have to pay higher health insurance premiums?

Under federal law, people cannot be penalized based on their vaccination status, according to the deputy director of the Idaho Dept. of Insurance Wes Trexler.

BOISE, Idaho — As the debate regarding COVID-19 vaccines continues, some have wondered if those who are unvaccinated will have to pay higher insurance premiums.

Under federal law, people cannot be penalized based on their vaccination status, according to the deputy director of the Idaho Dept. of Insurance Wes Trexler.

“Health insurance carriers or health insurance companies are not allowed to charge more to an individual based on their health status and that includes their vaccination status," Trexler said. "That would be part of their health."

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), only five factors can raise your monthly premium:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Tobacco use
  • Individual vs Family Enrollment
  • Plan category

Healthcare premiums are expected to rise across the board due to the pandemic. While people won’t be penalized for not being vaccinated, employers and insurance companies can offer vaccine incentives because of pandemic-related changes by the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The commission updated its guidance for employers to offer incentives to vaccinated workers on May 28, 2021. This is permitted as long as the employee voluntarily discloses their medical information.

Those incentives can come in different forms, such as paid time off, small bonuses, or a discounted health insurance premium.

A June survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that 57% of people believe employers should not offer incentives or cash bonuses in exchange for getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ultimately, unvaccinated people could end up paying higher insurance premiums, but it is not a penalty; it will likely be due to potential employer incentives for those who are vaccinated.

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