Delta Airlines Health Insurance Penalty

Delta Airlines announced that it plans to penalize unvaccinated employees—but legally, can it?  I’m Amy E. Feldman.

Delta Airlines recently announced that it will charge unvaccinated employees an additional $200 a month for health insurance but it remains to be seen if the policy will pass legal muster.  The Affordable Care Act, HIPAA, and other laws limit the ability of insurance plans to adjust what people pay for medical benefits. So how is Delta getting away with it?

Well, companies can modify premiums to offer tax-free incentives as part of workplace wellness programs.  Those incentives can be a penalty rather than a reward, but if it’s too high a penalty, a court could see it as coercive which has been found illegal—and $2,400 a year sounds pretty coercive.  It’s not clear why Delta didn’t just mandate vaccines, which would be legal, or whether they’ll wind up paying in legal costs what they hoped to save in medical costs.

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