Opinion: Two insurance-based ways to get more Americans vaccinated

With 40% of Americans completely unvaccinated against Covid-19 — blame it on political polarization, virulent disinformation, structural barriers, and more — the number of people infected by SARS-CoV-2 and dying from this disease are surging. The much-maligned health insurance industry, in conjunction with employers, could help reverse this trend by increasing vaccination rates through economic incentives and workplace vaccine access.

In theory, health insurance might be an effective tool to promote Covid-19 vaccination. Insurance generally serves two major economic purposes. First, it spreads the financial risk of foreseeable but unlikely harms (think car accidents, injuries requiring hospitalization, and the like) across a large population. Second, by requiring people who engage in riskier activities such as driving recklessly or smoking to pay higher premiums, it can create an incentive to behave more safely.

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