Employer - Vax mandate OR Testing allowed - Costs

returned to the office today. my employer only allowed those who uploaded their proof of vaccination to return. spoke with a vendor who said their company was doing the same next month.

when we discussed if an employee could return without proof of vax, but rather with weekly testing, we got to a point that impacts the decision:
-If weekly testing is required for those taking this option, those tests cost $200 each. Round numbers, that’s an extra $10K per year per unvaxxed employee to the medical plan.
-If 25% of the workers go the testing route, that’s over $200 PEPM increase for every employee in cost to the plan.
-The plan likely costs the company on order of ~$1000 PEPM (lower for single, higher for family).

So I don’t see many employers allowing the testing route if they can avoid it.

Higher cost for families on one employee plan, where both spouses (and possibly working dependents) are all getting tested weekly.

I know Delta Airline (I think it was them) said they were going to charge more for those without vaccines. But the real number (if weekly testing is required) is 4-5x the cost of the test - on top of the standard employee contribution amount.

Is this observation wrong?

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I think the difference in single and family coverage is inflated. I don’t know, yet, of any testing requirements of dependent age children. And if the spouse is part of the plan, they likely don’t have a job themselves so no testing requirement. The employee would likely be the only person submitting weekly tests.

But I agree with your overall point that weekly testing could be expensive for the employer. Unless it was required to be at employees own expense.

My employer does not require that a spouse with health benefits is ineligible for our plan. similar for dependent children (who can stay on to age 26, which could include full time work). I know that not all plans have that requirement, but it is possible that multiple employed adults are getting weekly tests on the plan.

schools could require the vaccine or require testing, esp now that the vax is out there for ages 5+. But who knows.

but yeah, long story short, the costs could be high for allowing testing-in-lieu-of-vax.

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My brother is an (anti-covid-vax) pilot for Delta. They charge $200/mo more if you’re not vaccinated, I think it went into effect Nov 1 unless they changed it.

I don’t know what kinds of tests are required here. I recently attended an all-staff retreat in DC, and we were required to test daily using the Abbot BinaxNow tests, which were $14 for a two-pack at my local Wal-Mart. I’ll note that my company mandated the vaccine before the feds did, so we were all vaccinated - but we’re a public health company so there was an abundance of caution that we not make the news here.

Wait, the “test every week” places are having the medical insurer pay for all of those tests???

Yeah, that’s not right IMO. They should be having the employee pay for the tests either directly, or via higher insurance premium.

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I was thinking testing would be covered by the cheap 15 minute OTC tests and provided on site at most employers.

While I am pro-vaccine, I also do not want my co-workers (yes, even the unvaccinated) to quit and leave me to deal with a bunch of new hires.

Long term, I predict that the testing option goes away (in the US) within 1-2 years because either

  1. COVID becomes much better contained and variants are less concerning OR
  2. Vaccination is much more accepted
  1. Everyone gets apathetic and gives up.

It isn’t. Where I work though the test has to be done at your own expense and in Canada no insurance will cover it. You can get the free test only if you have been exposed to covid/have symptoms on the list/are told to do so by a doctor otherwise you have to go to a drugstore and pay for one. These will get expensive really quickly. Having said that most jobs at work have the work from home option so many have an out that way (if you don’t go to the office you don’t need proof of vax).

If this is the case and some employers require vaccine and some employers allow testing covered by insurance, vaccinated individuals will go to the former and unvaccinated individuals will go to the latter. The employers who allow testing will go into an underwriting death cycle.

Allowing testing that’s covered by employer provided coverage might be just thing thing to brings the employer provided insurance market to it’s knees.

If only we had some alternative…

some follow up with the announcement for large employers to have vax or testing as of Jan 4.

my state does not allow the cost of work required testing to be passed on to employees. (unless that changes)
also, digging into health plan docs suggests that such testing is not covered in general by a health plan. they cover testing if exposed (possible one could claim that routinely) but not for those getting tests just for checkbox exercises.
so these requirements might not sink the employee health plans, but if paid for by companies will hit them at a cost of up to $5000-$10000 per year per unvaxed employee.

Does it have to be PCR testing? Antigen testing is cheap, especially if you buy in quantity. $5-$10 per week is going to come in under $500 (people take vacations) and that doesn’t seem prohibitive to keep an employee.

Reading the WSJ article, one employer mentioned “rapid tests”. So i think antigen testing will be allowed.

Also, i see the rules exclude employees who work from home or outdoors.

My employer announced that it will be covering the cost of testing for the “near future” but didn’t elaborate.

Gotta appease the base.

Based on an article I read today, hourly employees required to test need to be clocked in for that test. Not sure how long the test takes, if there are mins, if it is tracked, etc. Suggests maybe an on-site is best for control of the potential time leakage.