Workers that refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine may be facing higher health insurance premiums. There are some companies in Georgia that are already making the move to charge more for health insurance, and it has some people questioning if that is legal.
According to federal law, companies are allowed to charge employees different amounts for health care as long as they do it through a program designed to promote healthy behaviors and prevent disease.
For example, a company may run a wellness program that encourages employees to accumulate a certain number of steps every day or sets targets for BMI, a measurement of body fat based on height and weight. There are also wellness programs aimed at preventing and curbing tobacco use.
As part of these programs, companies can offer rewards or penalties for meeting certain targets, such as getting vaccinated. But they must not exceed 30% of the cost of the employee’s health care plan, calculated as the amount paid by the employee and the employer combined. The maximum penalty rises to 50% for wellness programs targeting tobacco use.
However, to ensure that wellness programs do not violate discrimination laws, companies must provide waivers for individuals who have medical reasons for not meeting the stated targets or alternative ways for them to satisfy the requirements.