In the latest attack on the unvaccinated, the Nevada government is going to force state workers to pay an insurance surcharge, making Nevada the first state to make state workers enrolled in public employee health insurance plan pay a surcharge if they aren’t vaccinated.
The state Public Employees’ Benefit Program Board voted on Thursday to charge unvaccinated workers up to $55 per month to offset the costs of testing those who haven’t gotten shots are required to undergo in certain workplaces.
“This is pandemic has been shouldered on the burden of everyone. And now this particular burden — the testing — should be shouldered on the burden of those who refuse to (be vaccinated),” said DuAne Young, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s policy director.
Laura Rich, the benefit program’s executive officer, said some public sector plans — including for workers at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport — have imposed surcharges on unvaccinated employees, but, to her knowledge, Nevada would be the first state to impose a systemwide surcharge on public employee plans.
She compared the premium to a smoking surcharge and said it would help underwrite roughly $18 million in annual testing costs. With thousands of unvaccinated workers, she said administrators had to decide the extent to which tax dollars should pay for the medical costs of those who chose not to get vaccinated.
“PEBP is largely a taxpayer-funded plan outside of employee premiums,” she said. “Since we do not have the ability to adjust the state subsidy portion outside of a legislative session, we have no choice but to look at other options.”
All but two members of the state’s Public Employees’ Benefit Program Board (PEBP) voted during a meeting to approve a surcharge of $55 a month on unvaccinated workers.