As many diaries on DK have chronicled, the pandemic is now primarily a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Hospital wards and ICU’s are still full of COVID patients and putting huge strain on our medical system and its dedicated professionals (who now not only have to deal with burnout due to dealing with so many patients, but now also face abuse by patients and families demanding unproven treatments, accusing them of deliberately killing patients, or flat out denying they have COVID), but ¾ or more of them are unvaccinated.

Every adult at this point has had many months to get vaccinated, and indeed a sizable majority are. But not enough.

Illinois state Representative Jonathan Carroll has proposed a bill that would put the financial burden of being unvaccinated during a pandemic upon the unvaccinated, rather than upon insurance companies (thus impacting everyone’s premiums), or the taxpayer.

The largest hospital group in Illinois has found that unvaccinated patients have hospital stays three times longer than vaccinated patients. And of course the vast majority of people being hospitalized in the first place are unvaccinated. The Centers for Medicaid Services have found the average COVID hospitalization costs $24,033. Those that end up in ICU, of course, can rack up significantly higher bills on an individual basis. 

“I think it’s time that we say ‘You choose not to get vaccinated, then you’re also going to assume the risk that if you do catch COVID, and you get sick, the responsibility is on you,’” Carroll said.

The proposed legislation is likely more to make a point than to have any practical effect on the pandemic. For one, it’s likely to receive a lot of political pushback, and not necessarily all from the GOP. For another, there are likely conflicts with Obamacare requirements that would have to be resolved in some way. And finally, as proposed the bill would not as a practical matter take effect until January 2023 — more than a. year from now — as it will not be a requirement for new or renewed insurance policies in Illinois until then — if the bill does ultimately get passed in some form.

But if enough people make enough noise about making the unvaccinated financially responsible for their continued indifference to the science and to the health of the people around them, maybe some of those unvaccinated people will get the hint that we, the vaccinated, are getting heartily tired of carrying the burden during this pandemic. 

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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