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Here's how and why companies can charge unvaccinated employees more for health coverage

If your company or insurer offers a wellness program, it can implement a surcharge for not getting vaccinated.

INDIANAPOLIS — $50,000.

That is how much money the average COVID-19 hospital stay costs Delta Airlines per person, according to its CEO.

As a result, starting Nov. 1, the company will charge unvaccinated employees enrolled in Delta Airlines' account-based healthcare plan an extra $200 a month.

Why can Delta charge unvaccinated workers? 

Delta Airlines is self-insured. That means the company pays customer claims themselves, not a big insurance company.

Medical billing expert Jonathon Hess said self-insured companies can do this through their wellness program.

"You really can't do anything from the health plan perspectives," Hess said.

Wellness programs can offer incentives or surcharges for lifestyle choices like exercising or smoking.

Fully insured companies may also offer wellness plans.

If employees do not want to pay a surcharge, they can always drop their company health coverage either going on a spouse's plan or buying it through Marketplace.

Can this happen to me? 

It depends.

If your company or insurer offers a wellness program, it can implement a surcharge like Delta Airlines is for not getting vaccinated.

Keep in mind, there are exceptions for people with religious beliefs or health issues.

If you have a Marketplace plan or Obamacare, Hess said you should not see this because of laws in place.

"They don't ask me if I have been vaccinated for being measles, mumps, rubella...right? They can't ask, you know, any of those things," Hess said.

Also remember, companies can mandate vaccines, skipping the insurance route all together if the state government allows it.