Delta Will No Longer Make Unvaccinated Employees Pay Insurance Surcharge


Delta Air Lines will no longer require unvaccinated employees to pay an additional $200 for health insurance every month, CEO Ed Bastian said Wednesday, as companies have dropped vaccination requirements in recent months as Covid-19 cases have declined.

Key Facts

Delta is no longer charging unvaccinated employees more “given the fact that we really do believe that the pandemic has moved to a seasonal virus,” Bastian told reporters and analysts on a call Wednesday, as reported by the Associated Press.

The change is effective as of this month, Bastian said, and will apply to all unvaccinated employees going forward.

Delta announced it was imposing the $200 surcharge in August 2021, saying it was necessary to offset the costs of Covid-19 treatment, as the average hospital stay for Covid-19 cost the company $40,000 per person.

Approximately 90% of Delta’s 80,000 employees were vaccinated as of October, according to the company.

Key Background

Delta was one of several major employers to impose an insurance surcharge on its unvaccinated workers, along with Kroger and Nevada with state government employees, and so far appears to be the only major employer to have revoked the policy. Its decision to stop the extra insurance charges comes as vaccination requirements have been rolled back as Covid-19 cases have fallen nationwide following the omicron surge over the winter. Some major employers like Google and Adidas have lifted their vaccination mandates for employees, particularly after the Supreme Court ruled against the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers. Major cities also dropped their proof-of-vaccination requirements to enter many public places as cases declined.


Public health experts have disputed Bastian’s suggestion that Covid-19 “has moved to a seasonal virus” and the idea that Covid-19 should now be treated as an “endemic” disease the country has to “learn to live with,” as many politicians have argued. Experts told Forbes in February it was too soon to start viewing the coronavirus that way, with Dr. Aris Katzourakis, an evolutionary virologist at the University of Oxford, saying that while it’s still unclear when Covid-19 will become endemic, “it’s not going to be in 2022.” If Covid-19 becomes endemic, coronavirus will continue to circulate and won’t go away, and it could still rise to the level of being a pandemic again, experts told Forbes.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday it will continue the federal government’s mask mandate for airplanes and other public transportation for another two weeks in light of concerns about the highly transmissible omicron BA.2 subvariant, which is linked to a new rise in Covid-19 cases. Covid-19 transmission on airplanes has been a concern throughout the pandemic, with the AP noting the Delta insurance surcharge and other airline vaccination efforts were partially put in place to help assuage travelers worried about flying due to Covid-19. Though air travel volume is now up significantly since earlier in the pandemic—the number of travelers going through airport security checkpoints is nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, according to the Transportation Security Administration—a Morning Consult poll conducted April 10 found only 48% of respondents feel comfortable flying.

Further Reading

Delta Air Lines drops surcharge for unvaccinated employees (Associated Press)

Delta Air Lines Will Charge Unvaccinated Employees $200 Per Month More For Health Insurance, CEO Says (Forbes)

More companies are weighing penalties for unvaccinated workers (Washington Post)

CDC Extends Travel Mask Mandate For Two Weeks Amid Spread Of BA.2 Covid Variant (Forbes)

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