Make those who don’t get vaccinated pay $500

And give a tax deduction of $500 to those who do get jabbed

MASSACHUSETTS IS AGAIN experiencing a COVID-19 surge and our hospitals are overwhelmed, mostly with unvaccinated patients.

As a practicing physician who takes care of many high-risk diabetic patients, I ask all my patients about their COVID-19 vaccination status. I explain to my unvaccinated patients that the benefits of vaccination far exceed the risk, both at the individual and societal level.

Unfortunately, this conversation only convinces a minority of the unvaccinated to get vaccinated and I have found that their decision is usually a political or tribal decision, not a scientific decision. My experience is concordant with survey data which has found that the best predictor of vaccination status is political affiliation.

Recent social experiments have found that “incentives” have failed to convince most unvaccinated people to become vaccinated. However, “disincentives,” such as employment mandates, are an effective means of convincing a majority of unvaccinated patients to become vaccinated.

The Commonwealth’s politicians need to better protect the health of our residents and minimize the expenditures of avoidable healthcare dollars. This can be accomplished by employing targeted disincentives.

First, Massachusetts should immediately implement a time-limited, COVID-19 emergency “fair-share” healthcare surcharge of $500 for every Massachusetts resident which would be payable on one’s state taxes. The funds from this surcharge would be used to reimburse healthcare institutions that are struggling financially as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Concurrently, people who are fully vaccinated and boosted would be granted a $500 credit on their taxes, as their anticipated use of healthcare resources will be less than our unvaccinated residents.

The Commonwealth should also mandate that all medium and large employers vaccinate a very high percentage of their employees or the business would be financially liable to the Commonwealth for a “fair-share” healthcare surcharge, the amount would be proportional to their total number of employees.

Meet the Author
The decision to remain unvaccinated inflicts avoidable healthcare problems and economic costs on Massachusetts’ vaccinated residents and our economy. It is time to make the unvaccinated pay their fair share.

Hayward Zwerling is a doctor who lives in Somerville.