By Riley Snyder/The Nevada Independent

State employees who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 may soon be required to pay up to $55 in monthly insurance surcharges to help recoup testing costs, meaning Nevada could be the first state to adopt such a policy for its state-employed workforce.

Nevada’s Public Employees’ Benefits Program (PEBP) — which provides health and life insurance to about 70,000 people including state employees and their dependents — will discuss that option and others affecting the insurance system’s response to COVID-19 at its board meeting on Dec. 2.

Though it’s likely the policy will convince more of the estimated 5,000 unvaccinated state employees and 1,250 Nevada System of Higher Education employees to get the jab, PEBP Executive Director Laura Rich framed the proposals — which also include changes to testing policy and reinstatement of cost-sharing for COVID treatment — as a question of who should bear costs.

“There are going to be costs that are associated with unvaccinated employees,” she said in an interview with The Nevada Independent. “Someone has to foot the bill. So do you spread those costs across everybody? Or do you propose that those responsible for the costs are paying the costs?”

If approved, the new policy would require all state employees and dependents who do not provide proof of vaccination or a legitimate religious or health exemption by July 1, 2022 to begin paying a monthly premium — $55 per employee, and $175 per dependent over the age of 18 covered by the health plan.

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