The news media, employers, the person on the street… just about everyone is talking about the COVID-19 vaccine. With the U.S. death toll approaching 500,000 and with the even more virulent and deadly U.K. variant of COVID-19 starting to spread through the U.S., it’s no wonder. Despite the shaky launch, President Biden has promised 100 million vaccines in the first 100 days of his presidency. While that seems like a lot, it only represents about 15% of the U.S. population. If you have been attentive to news media reports, Dr. Fauci, the government’s infectious disease specialist, says things won’t return to the “old normal” until the U.S. achieves herd immunity – which won’t be accomplished until vaccinated Americans reach 70% of the population.
Viewpoints from Craig Hasday
For now, vaccine distribution is controlled by the government and their authorized distribution partners.
The list of these partners is growing rapidly and no doubt there will be options for accessing this injection. So, EPIC recently conducted a Market Pulse Survey and the response was robust with over half of respondents indicating that they will encourage, but not mandate vaccines. It’s clear that, at least initially, there is vaccine reluctance and 12% of employers indicate that they will be providing incentives to get the vaccine.
And, prior to herd immunity, it is clear that testing will be prevalent and encouraged.
Tests are not cheap – around $100 per test – and if medically indicated, employer plans are paying for this cost (that means if symptoms are being exhibited or if there is exposure to an infected person). However, non-medically indicated testing has become commonplace and all indication is that this will ramp up quickly. Some examples are for travel, attending events or even just to visit with family members who are not part of your COVID-19 “pod.” So, we asked employers about their intent to cover these costs. 72% said they would only pay for medically necessary testing with the remainder split between covering 100% of the cost and covering testing subject to normal cost-sharing.
Our survey highlighted that whatever your approach, most employers intend to continue offering a lot of communication around COVID-19 policies.
I would encourage you to go to the EPIC website and request a copy of the survey results – and while you are there, sign up for Part One of our webinars, What Employers Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines, featuring legal and medical guidance.
Your EPIC advisor is there to help you through this brave new world whether it relates to plan design, financial projections, or communication, we will work with you hand-in-hand to get your intended messaging right.
Register for webinars covering our recent Market Pulse Survey results: January 29 | What Employers Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccinations
Check out more of our EPIC Resources:
Visit the EPIC coronavirus update center for COVID-19 information
Sign up for EPIC Newsletters in one convenient location
See results from our In It Together pulse surveys on our COVID-19 strategic collaboration and idea-sharing forum
EPIC offers these opinions for general information only. EPIC does not intend this material to be, nor may any person receiving this information construe or rely on this material as, tax or legal advice. The matters addressed in this article and any related discussions or correspondence should be reviewed and discussed with legal counsel prior to acting or relying on these materials.
President, National Employee Benefits Practice