COVID-19 vaccines have been widely available to Americans since April. Whether you decide to get vaccinated has consequences. And we're not just talking about your health. People getting vaxxed (or not) can impact the whole economy. Research by the Kaiser Family Foundation says that COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults cost the US health system more than $2 billion in June and July alone.
As for your financial health? Here's what your vax status could mean for you.
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, which you could have to pay for out-of-pocket.
Pricier health insurance. To help cover those higher costs, some insurance providers may start 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.)
Fewer job opportunities. About 20% of employers (so far) have some sort of vaccine mandate for workers. That number is set to increase significantly, due to new rules President Joe Biden just announced for large employers, gov workers, and health care staff. Remaining unvaxxed could mean having to find a new job among a smaller pool of options.
Career growth. With a growing number of employers requiring that (at least in-person) workers be vaxxed, opting in could lead to 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.
The delta wave that's been particularly devastating to the unvaccinated population has been a big speed bump on the road to recovery. Hospitalizations are up, hiring has slowed, and people are easing up on spending. 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.
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Casey Bond, Ivana Pino, Stacy Rapacon, and Elyse Steinhaus
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