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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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Companies starting to increase health insurance costs for unvaccinated workers

Posted at 9:45 AM, Sep 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-08 09:45:39-04

(WSYM) — If you're not vaccinated, you could face higher insurance premiums.

Companies are starting to increase health insurance for employees who do not have the COVID-19 shot. Local attorneys say raising insurance premiums for unvaccinated employees is not illegal, but is complex.

Angel Copeland, an unvaccinated Taylor resident, said if her job ever announced this, she would quit.

"There's a million other jobs out there," she said. "I'll have another one."

She says an employer doesn't have the right to increase premiums, but Bruce Miller, a union rights and employment attorney, says employers actually can.

“If you are covered by a union contract, the employer is not permitted to make unilateral changes in terms to the condition of your employment during the agreement," he said. "Where there is no union contract, there is no protection.”

Miller says your only protection is joining a union or speaking with your employer.

"This kind of charge is unilateral, unexpected and results in significant change in the worker's take-home pay."

In November, Delta airlines will increase premiums for unvaccinated employees by $200.

Nick Huguelet, a senior attorney at Nemeth Law PC, says employers who plan to implement these kinds of requirements are on a deadline.

"Open enrollment is probably the easiest and most natural time to do that," he said.

Open enrollment is the yearly period in the fall where people can register for health insurance for 2022. It begins on Nov. 1.

Huguelet said it's important to give employees time to decide.

“Making employees aware of these changes well in advance so that they can get their first dose of the vaccine 5 to 6 weeks before the open enrollment period to make sure they have the opportunity to comply.”

This is an expense that Copeland doesn't believe she should have to pay for.

"They already tax us plenty enough as well. We have all the money that comes out. What are we getting for ourselves? What is the initiative to stay employed?"