Nevada to make unvaccinated state workers pay insurance surcharge

Nevada state workers and adult dependents who are covered under public employee benefits and remain unvaccinated will be hit with a monthly surcharge starting next July in an effort to alleviate COVID-19 testing costs, the Associated Press reported.

Beginning in July 2022, unvaccinated state employees and their dependents will have to pay a monthly fee as a result of Nevada’s Public Employees’ Benefit Program Board voting in favor of a surcharge on Thursday, according to the news outlet.

The executive officer of the Public Employees’ Benefit Program, Laura Rich, told The Hill that employees will be charged $55 per month, while dependents over the age of 18 years old will be charged $175 per month.
 
"While the cost of surveillance testing is certainly going to be substantial and a main factor, the surcharge is also intended to help absorb the cost of increased COVID related treatment and hospitalization costs," she added.

Weekly testing is mandated in Nevada workplaces, and it is estimated that for 2021 alone, over $6 million in COVID-19 claims will be filed by Nevada employees. 

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Some organizations have imposed policies similar to the approved surcharge in an effort to compel employees to get the vaccine while underscoring how expensive it can be to remain unvaccinated within a community.

The largest health system in Louisiana said earlier this year that it would be charging $100 per pay period, or $200 monthly, to their workers if their partners or spouses that receive benefits through the employer remain unvaccinated.

“We spent more than $9 million on COVID care for those who are covered on our health plans over the last year. We know that COVID-19 vaccination dramatically reduces transmission, severity of symptoms, hospitalizations, and death. Approximately 90% of those hospitalized with COVID in our facilities have been unvaccinated since vaccines were approved in December 2020,” Ochsner Health President and CEO Warner Thomas said in a statement at the time, according to KLFY NEWS 10.

“Widespread vaccination is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19, and we hope this change will encourage even more community members to get vaccinated,” he added.

The news comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and as the United States has now confirmed a handful of omicron variant cases, including in California, Hawaii, Colorado, New York and Minnesota. 

Health officials have pointed to the new variant while further pressing people to get vaccinated or get their boosters if they have not already done so and are eligible, saying that inoculating against the virus will be crucial to curbing its spread.

— Updated Dec. 3 at 4:52 p.m.