Should Construction Industry Unvaccinated Workers Pay More for Insurance?

unvaccinated workers

It’s another incentive plan for construction industry unvaccinated workers.

What didn’t work:

  • Free transportation
  • Gift cards
  • Onsite educational sessions
  • Onsite vaccination clinics
  • Paid sick leave day-after vaccination
  • Paid time off for vaccination

Construction industry companies are now considering health plan surcharges for unvaccinated workers. Maybe this one will work.

Construction Industry Unvaccinated Are Workplace Safety Risks

The idea is, if allowed to smoke onsite, the health of other workers would be jeopardized. That would increase employers’ health plan expenses. Unvaccinated employees can unknowingly expose co-workers to COVID-19 or the delta variant with the same results; more illness and higher health plan costs.

The surcharges plan faces a lot of unanswered questions:

  • Employers cannot ethically offer an incentive that could be considered coercion. Is the surcharge a coercive incentive?
  • How long do you give workers to get vaccinated before initiating the surcharge?
  • If it is classified as a “health-contingent wellness program,” the plan would be “legal.” Otherwise, does this plan violate the HIPAA or Affordable Care Act rules for premiums consistency?
    • If the surcharge program is a health-contingent wellness program, do employers need to offer a “reasonable alternative standard?”
      • Reasonable alternatives could be video or seminar on the dangers of remaining unvaccinated.
    • Will the surcharge plan be considered an “activity-only” or “outcome-based” wellness program?
  • Will some employers charge $25 per-paycheck while others charge $50?
  • Will the surcharge deadlines coincide with open enrollment?

Some believe the surcharge will fail to incentivize construction industry workers. The number of construction workers that don’t participate in health plans would be unaffected, so… They could remain unvaccinated if they choose.

Another argument is the surcharges would prejudicially favor management and higher-income workers because research shows vaccination rates are higher among educated and higher-income personnel. The rates would be disproportionately high for lower-wage workers.

Mandates appear to be the best option for a lot of construction industry projects. This poses its own set of questions:

  • If employers discover a “fake” vaccination card, are they legally bound to report the criminal activity to the FBI?
  • Is onsite testing a better option or a bigger headache?
  • Is requesting proof of vaccination a violation of confidential medical records?
  • What constitutes verification of vaccination?

And now…

  • What about booster shots?
  • What else can you do?

You can continue to research informative online newsletters (including Construction Monitor) and other construction industry organizations’ press releases; Associated General Contractors news, etc. You may want to assign a team responsible for vaccination information and other wellness updates.

Meanwhile, we hope your marketing team utilizes our building permit data for lead development. Contact Construction Monitor for ideas.