Eighteen months after the first coronavirus-related lockdowns began, a new debate is raging through every social sphere. That question is whether or not to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Many people remain concerned about the vaccine’s efficacy or worry about potential long-term side effects. On the other hand, the concern for the spread of the virus is valid as cases continue to rise and new variants emerge. Learn about the potential insurance surcharge that employers could charge unvaccinated employees.

Vaxxed Vs. Unvaxxed

The conversation between vaxxed and unvaxxed is ever-more prevalent as more and more people are either returning to the workplace or are finding ways to delay returning to the workplace in an effort to maintain distance from potential exposure. So much so that the conversation has moved beyond coworkers and into the offices of CEOs, COOs, and HR. Employers are considering what their options are to keep their business running while providing a safe work environment. While some big corporations are beginning to mandate vaccination, other smaller corporations are weighing their options.

In order for some of these smaller companies to remain afloat, they have to respond carefully. Not wishing to alienate their employees or their clientele, they must walk a fine line between civil liberty and public safety. To that end, some employers are looking into a precedent set by an unexpected sector: smokers.


There is a practice in insurance companies to charge a higher premium to those who smoke cigarettes. The logic behind this is simple. Smoking is a personal choice that we know causes a number of health issues, including cancer. These health issues cost insurance companies and employers a great deal of money when it comes time to treat. Therefore, insurance companies charge a higher premium to the individual to help offset some of those costs.

The Insurance Surcharge

Employers who remain reticent to mandate vaccination before returning to work are now looking into charging a higher premium to their employees who choose to remain unvaccinated. Some have suggested that the higher premium could be $20-50 more per paycheck to maintain the same level of coverage. In this way, employers are able to allow employees to make the choice for themselves regarding vaccination. On the other hand, they’re providing a financial incentive toward vaccination. It may not be the ideal scenario, and it is one that must be looked at for the legal implications before it can be rolled out.

In addition, companies may need to allow certain waivers as some immunocompromised employees cannot receive the vaccine. It is worth investigating as both an employer and an employee. And knowing that this potential change to premiums could be coming sooner rather than later as employers look to ways to improve business after 18 months of struggling.