Should Parents Who Don’t Vaccinate Pay Higher Insurance Premiums?

Jackie - posted on 01/21/2011 ( 16 moms have responded )




Dr. Rahul K. Parikh wrote a provocative editorial for CNN today, proposing that parents who choose not to vaccinate should be obligated to pay higher insurance rates than those parents who do immunize. He cites research from a 2008 measles outbreak triggered by an unvaccinated child who contracted the disease in Europe. The child in turn exposed 839 people, passing measles on to 11 others, one of whom required hospitalization. The total cost to manage and treat this outbreak? $124,517.

Dr. Parikh writes:

“Refusing to vaccinate a child is dangerous not just for that child but for entire communities. It's precisely this point a colleague of mine was considering when he had the idea that parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids should pay substantially higher health insurance premiums.

It makes sense. Insurance, after all, is just a pool of money into which we all pay. In determining how much we or our employers pay, risk is taken into account.

The perfect analogy is smoking. If you smoke -- and want to turn your lungs black and spend a greater portion of that pot of money on your possible chronic lung disease or any cancers you'll get -- then you may have to pay more.”

Why shouldn't we impose the same logic on parents who refuse to vaccinate their children?”

Many parents who choose not to vaccinate wonder why it’s anyone else’s business. After all, if your child’s immunized, you don’t have anything to worry about, right? We address this confusion in our Vaccine FAQ:

“…vaccines aren't 100-percent effective; about 95 percent of the protection comes from the vaccine and the remaining protection comes from living in a community where there are low rates of the disease. So for vaccines to keep a disease in check, most people in a community need to be immunized, so they're not contracting and spreading the disease. This way, the few people that are not able to be vaccinated—say, a child sick with leukemia, or a newborn who hasn't had her shots—will hopefully be protected by what's called ‘herd’ or ‘community’ immunity.”

What do you think: should parents who opt out of immunizations be charged more for their family insurance? Or would such a move inappropriately take medical choices out of the hands of parents?

Here's the link to the Vaccine Q&A


Krista - posted on 01/21/2011




If something like this were to be implemented, obviously they would have to make exceptions for those who cannot vaccinate due to allergies or due to a family history of allergies.

But how do you prove a family history of allergies? It's not like you can go back and get your entire families' medical records.

Honestly, I think this would wind up costing more in red tape than it would save/make in coverage/premiums.

Smokers do pay more, but it tends to be on an honour system, if I recall correctly -- you just indicate on the form whether you smoke. And I'm sure plenty of people lie about it.

Personally, I would love to see anti-vaxxers (ones without that history of allergies) to get hit harder for their health insurance, as I DO firmly believe that lower vaccination rates pose a major threat to public health. But I just don't see how the logistics of it would work.

Tara - posted on 01/21/2011




I don't believe in private health insurance to begin with. Our health care system provides all people with health care.

However, I do think that in a situation where people are paying for their insurance, people who are considered high risk should be paying a higher premium so that those who make healthier choices don't see an increase in the own premiums because of the choices of others.
The smoking analogy was my first though too.
If you choose not to vax. and your child contracts whooping cough that could have (in most cases) been prevented, ends up in the hospital etc. etc. why should your insurance rate be the same as someone who chooses to prevent such diseases?

[deleted account]

Well lets make regular macdonalds eaters pay more too..

I didn't vaccinate my daughter because she got one round of shots at 6 months and had a sever adverse reaction. My mother told me I had the same reaction, and i went against my better judgment. If i didn't vaccinate all this shit could happen apparently, its worse for me to vaccinate. I would rather not kill my daughter. She cant get the shots. So should people like me need to pay more? People who CAN"T immunize their children??

Sarah - posted on 01/21/2011




Health insurance in the states is so dang complicated in the first place. I'm struggling with straightening out this health insurance mess so my son can have a simple, 2 hour surgery. If I can't get it figured out, we're looking at a $15,000 bill for his surgery. I'm not sure how all this insurance crap works, but at my old job, tobacco users DID pay more for their insurance. I know the same thing is true for people with pre-existing medical conditions who try to apply for insurance.

YES, I do think that parents who don't vaccinate should pay higher medical premiums. I don't care what other people think...not vaccinating your child (as long as he/she doesn't have other immune type disorders) is extremely irresponsible...for the child & the community.


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Stifler's - posted on 01/21/2011




I just think of it this way... I have to pay higher premiums because I am under 25 and have a V6. Why shouldn't be people deliberately putting the rest of society at risk pay more?

[deleted account]

I don't think they need to pay higher premiums but I do think they are stupid. My in-laws didn't vaccinate their children and they have had the mumps, and polio so far. Their kids aren't even 8 yet. I think every parent needs to understand what they are truly setting their child up for if their child is not vaccinated. My niece and nephew get sick on a regular basis. I don't mind letting my kids around them just because my kids have been vaccinated. They have built up an immune system whereas my niece and nephew have not just because they haven't been vaccinated. I have intentionally exposed them to chicken pox so that they can get it now and not when they are older. The older an unprotected child gets chicken pox the harder it will be on their health.

[deleted account]

I'm torn. After having had hodgkin lymphoma and graves disease, health insurance for me is nearly impossible to get. In 2012 when that portion of the stupid healthcare law comes into effect, insurance agencies will no longer be able to refuse to cover me, however, the premium will cost more than our mortgage.

Also, insurance companies (in the US) DO NOT have to pay for anything related to your pre-existing conditions weather they know about them or not. So if I were able to go out and buy an insurance policy today, and my cancer decided to come back (which is very rare with HL), that policy would not cover any related expenses. If you get cancer in this country, YOU ARE SCREWED.

It is not my fault I got cancer. I didn't move to some toxic waste site, smoke, do any drugs, or eat crappy foods, in fact, I did everything I could do to live a healthy lifestyle.

So, I guess if they don't charge people who choose not to vaccinate higher rates, then they should not charge people who had cancer or other health issues that do not have any relation to lifestyle choices higher rates. On the other hand, if they are going to charge smokers and cancer survivors out the wazoo for insurance, they should charge non-vaxers too.

Rosie - posted on 01/21/2011




i'm not so sure. i don't really like it when insurance companies raise rates of people for ANY reason. it pisses me off.
i am keen on forcing everybody to vaccinate that can get one without a reaction. there i fixed the problem, gqtm!

Sara - posted on 01/21/2011




Well, insurance generally does charge more to people in high risk categories, such as people who are obese or smoke or have a history of health problems, so based on that I could see this becoming a reality.

Jackie - posted on 01/21/2011




I tend to agree. If you are higher risk and may need more medical intervention due to a choice that you made, then why not have to pay more just like a smoker?

"Do smokers, drinkers, the obese pay more as they are more likely to get cancer? Do you pay more if cancer / serious disease runs in your family?"

@ Tracey - I know smokers DO pay more. As for cancer and stuff like that, then yes you have to pay more if you are applying for medical insurance. You have to put that you have a pre-existing condition and your premium will go up. If you have a pre-existing condition such as cancer and you don't list it, then the insurance company can refuse to pay for the first 6 months, I think.

I don't think it goes up if you already have insurance and you get cancer or something like that though. Again, I think that's how it works but not positive

Shauna - posted on 01/21/2011




I live in the states and I have ADD and when i was in highschool also took med for deppresion and anxiety. My parents insurance company dropped me b/c of it. I had to cold turkey go off meds and it caused me to get very sick and go through withdrawls like a addict would. I lost my job and almost failed school.

Bonnie - posted on 01/21/2011




I had a DVT in my left leg 6 years ago and for 5 years my life insurance policy was more because I was a higher risk.

Tracey - posted on 01/21/2011




My son had the MMR and still caught measles.

I don't know about health insurance as in UK we have free health care so I'm not informed enough to comment on other countries systems.

Do smokers, drinkers, the obese pay more as they are more likely to get cancer? Do you pay more if cancer / serious disease runs in your family?

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