BOZEMAN — Health insurance is already a complex topic, but when you throw in COVID-19 and a pandemic there can be even more questions, especially pertaining to cost.
One question that has arisen is if unvaccinated people could see higher costs than vaccinated people.
“I don’t think health insurance carriers would go down that road,” said Eric Deeg with First West Insurance.
In fact, legally in Montana, they cannot.
“The governor signed House Bill 702 in May which basically made it illegal to discriminate based on vaccination status," Deeg explained.
"Employers could still ask, but then people can decline to answer that question and you cannot discriminate against people in their pay, their job, employment—things like that.”
That includes health insurance. But the protection is only statewide and it can differ in other states. “Those types of things are going to become more prevalent. Montana is a bit on the leading edge of some of that,” said Deeg.
So being vaccinated or not doesn’t directly change costs for health insurance. Actually, a lot of costs have been completely eliminated for consumers surrounding COVID-19.
“Testing and vaccines are covered at 100%, so it doesn’t cost the individual to go get those services,” Deeg said.
This insurance specialist has over 30 years of experience and believes it won’t be COVID-19 that drives the cost of health insurance in the future, but the lack of care to other health issues during this pandemic.
“People weren’t going to the doctor, couldn’t go to the hospitals or doctors office for some of their tests and now they need to catch up and go get those preventive exams and make sure they stay up on cancer screenings and diabetes testing and things of that nature,” said Deeg.
So while COVID-19 may not have an immediate effect on Montana consumers, the lack of attention to preventive care could cause more big claims which ultimately would increase costs.