COVID-19 vaccines have been widely available to Americans since last April. Whether you decide to get vaccinated or not has consequences. And we're not just talking about your health. Your vaccination status can impact the whole economy. Research by the Kaiser Family Foundation says that COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults cost the US health system $13.8 billion from June through November 2021.
As for your financial health? Here's what your vax status could mean for you.
If you're NOT vaccinated...
Higher healthcare expenses. A COVID-19 vaccine doesn't guarantee you won't get sick. But it does boost your odds against death or a COVID-related hospital visit, which costs an estimated $20,000, on average, according to Kaiser research. Even if you do stay healthy, many workplaces and schools require unvaccinated people to get regular COVID tests. Fortunately, private insurance companies now have to cover up to eight at-home covid tests per month. And the federal government can send you free tests now, too.
Pricier health insurance. To help cover those higher costs of getting sick, some insurance providers are charging more. See: Delta Air Lines. They're requiring unvaccinated employees to pay an extra $200 per month for a company-provided plan. (Psst...in just two weeks after the airline's announcement, 20% of unvaxxed workers got the shot.) And other employers, like Kroger and JP Morgan Chase, are following suit.
Fewer job opportunities. President Joe Biden’s plan to require private-sector employees to get vaccinated was blocked by the Supreme Court in mid-January. But about 57% of employers have some sort of vaccine mandate for workers. In New York City, for example, all workers who interact with the public must have proof of vaccination to keep working. So going unvaxxed could mean having to find a new job among a smaller pool of options.
If you ARE vaccinated…
Incentives and freebies. Showing proof of vaccination could score you free stuff. Some companies are giving bonuses to vaccinated employees.
Career growth. With a growing number of companies requiring that in-office workers be vaxxed, opting in could mean more opportunities. And more face time with your boss could mean a higher likelihood of getting promoted. Say hi to higher paychecks.
More choices. As mandates become more popular in other areas of life, a legit vax card could be your ticket to things like dining indoors, seeing a concert, and traveling. That might not boost your budget, but it can help the economy. Because consumer spending is a major driver of economic growth.
Talk more about the economy.
The delta wave that was particularly devastating to the unvaccinated population last summer and fall was a big speed bump on the road to recovery. Hospitalizations went up, hiring slowed, and people eased up on spending. And omicron is giving the US déjà vu. Psst… see how it (and any future strains) can hit your wallet.
If more people get vaccinated, variants are expected to be less harmful. Which should bring us closer to post-pandemic life, where people can send their kids back to school without fear and safely get back to in-person work and play. Aka earning money and fueling the economy.
Whether or not you get vaxxed, your choice could mean big consequences for your health, your wallet, and the economy at large. Be sure you know the facts before you make a final decision.
Updated Jan. 20 to include new vaccination mandates and COVID testing information.