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Delta eliminates $200 per month surcharge for unvaccinated employees

CEO Ed Bastian says Delta is dropping the charge because, he says, COVID-19 is now “a seasonal virus.”

ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines has dropped a $200 per month surcharge that it had been levying against unvaccinated employees who were on the company's health plan.

“We have dropped as of this month the additional insurance surcharge given the fact that we really do believe that the pandemic has moved to a seasonal virus,” CEO Ed Bastian said on a call Wednesday with analysts and reporters. “Any employees that haven’t been vaccinated will not be paying extra insurance costs going forward.”

U.S. airlines tried different approaches to get employees vaccinated against COVID-19, including a mandate by United Airlines, which ended up dismissing about 200 employees. Delta was the only one to impose an insurance surcharge, and it credited the move with helping get more than 90% of its U.S.-based workers vaccinated.

When Delta imposed the surcharge last year, Bastian said it was necessary because the average hospital stay for an employee with COVID-19 was costing the company $50,000.

Delta is self-insured and sets premiums for its plans, which are administered by UnitedHealthcare.

Airlines tried to get employees vaccinated to help reassure travelers that they wouldn't contract the virus during a flight. In the U.S., air travel is now nearly back to 90% of pre-pandemic levels.

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