People who choose to remain unvaccinated and subsequently become severely ill with COVID-19 should be responsible for paying the entirety of their hospital bills out of pocket, according to Illinois Representative Jonathan Carroll.
The Democrat from the Chicago suburb of Northbrook introduced legislation Monday that would amend the state’s insurance code so that accident and health insurance policies in 2023 would no longer cover COVID-19 hospital bills for people who choose to remain unvaccinated. Carroll said the rule would not apply to those with medical conditions that prevent vaccination.
The bill will likely face considerable political and legal opposition. Most notably, federal law prevents insurers from denying coverage or increasing rates based on a change in a person’s health status, such as a new diagnosis of COVID-19.
But Carroll is not bothered by this, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that the proposed legislation is just a “starting point” to hold people who choose to go unvaccinated responsible for their decisions. He added that the legislation represents the frustration felt by those who are “following the science” and trying to do “the right thing” toward people “choosing not to get vaccinated, who are able to, for whatever [reason] they choose.”
“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 told the Sun-Times.
Carroll pointed to nationwide data showing that unvaccinated people account for the vast majority of people hospitalized with COVID-19. Hospitalizations in the US are still quite high, with around 60,000 people hospitalized daily. Many states are seeing health care systems overwhelmed, causing medical providers to ration care and delay non-urgent services, including screenings and elective surgeries.
Meanwhile, hospital care for COVID-19 patients is costing the US billions of dollars. An analysis in September by the Peterson Center on Healthcare and Kaiser Family Foundation found that preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults cost over $5 billion just between June and August of 2021. The average cost for a COVID-19 hospital stay is estimated to be around $20,000.