State representative files legislation that would force unvaccinated residents to pay for own COVID-19 bills

Coronavirus

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A state representative fed up with unvaccinated residents wants them to pay for their own medical bills if they end up hospitalized with COVID-19.

The sponsor of the bill, State Rep. Jonathan Carroll (D-57th District), said he got the idea from his wife — who asked why the government picks up the hospital bill for people who are unvaccinated.

“It’s very frustrating that we’re being asked to carry the burden of people that aren’t following what the science and what the doctors are telling us,” Carroll said.

Carroll’s bill would amend the state’s insurance code so that a person who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and chooses not be vaccinated must pay for health care expenses out-of-pocket if the person becomes hospitalized because of COVID.

The change would update insurance policies issued or renewed on or after January 2023.

The bill is almost certain to face legal questions. Federal laws bar employers and insurers from charging higher prices to people with pre-existing health conditions. But some employers are taking action anyway. Delta Airlines announced that unvaccinated workers could face a $200 monthly health insurance surcharge.

Even without a legislative push, data show more and more Illinois residents are getting vaccinated. 56.9 percent of eligible residents are now fully vaccinated.

In Cook and the collar counties, more than six in 10 vaccine eligible residents have gotten their shots. But in some parts of the state, the vaccine numbers are below 50 percent.

In Cook County and Chicago, the message remains — get vaccinated or get the booster.

“The surest tool that we know to maximize safety if for people to get vaccinated,” Mayor Lightfoot said.

The Illinois Democratic House leadership declined to comment on the bill.

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