State Watch

State rep proposes unvaccinated in Illinois pay out of pocket for coronavirus care

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A Democratic Illinois state representative filed a bill on Monday that would require unvaccinated hospital patients to pay for their COVID-19 treatment out of pocket.

The bill introduced by Illinois state Rep. Jonathan Carroll states, “a person who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and chooses not to be vaccinated shall pay for health care expenses out-of-pocket if the person becomes hospitalized because of COVID-19 symptoms.”

The bill would introduce an insurance policy with the new stipulations around vaccines to go into effect in 2023.

Carroll’s bill is sure to face intense pushback as well as legal concerns. As The Washington Post noted, federal law bars insurers and employers from charging people more for medical because they have a pre-existing condition, which includes having previously been diagnosed and treated for COVID-19.

Speaking to The Hill, Carroll said he introduced the bill in part because he believes the U.S. is at a point in the pandemic when vaccines have been proven to be effective.

“For the people that are vaccinated, it’s getting very frustrating that people aren’t and we’re seeing the numbers are spiking again. We’re seeing new variants are popping up,” Carroll said.

The Illinois representative said he had the support of some other lawmakers in the state legislature before introducing the bill, though he declined to specify who they were.

He added the law wouldn’t mandate anybody to get the vaccine, but said “every action has a consequence.” 

“If you look at something like polio as an example. When the vaccine came out for polio, people took the vaccine and we were able to eradicate polio. I don’t understand why in 2021 we’re still having these difficult conversations,” he added.

Numerous organizations around the country have begun to signal a less lenient attitude towards vaccine-hesitant individuals as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on and more variants of concern emerge.

In Nevada, unvaccinated state workers and adult dependents who are covered under public employee benefits will face a monthly surcharge beginning next July.

“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,” Laura Rich, executive officer of the Public Employees’ Benefit Program, said on the decision.

Earlier this year, the largest health system in Louisiana — Ochsner Health — said it would begin a similar measure in 2022, charging employees who have benefits with the health system $200 a month if their partners or spouses are unvaccinated. The charge was referred to as a “spousal COVID vaccine fee,” with Ochsner Health President and CEO Warner Thomas noting that a similar action is made for tobacco users.

“The reality is the cost of treating COVID-19, particularly for patients requiring intensive inpatient care, is expensive,” Thomas said in a statement at the time.

Tags COVID-19 treatment COVID-19 vaccination in the United States Illinois unvaccinated Americans Vaccine hesitancy

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