No More Excuses

Before I started writing this column, I received the news that the Phizer COVID vaccine has received the full approval from the FDA. No doubt that the other COVID vaccines will also receive the full approval from the FDA soon. As soon as the FDA gave approval of the Phizer vaccine, the Pentagon has ordered that all active duty and reserve troops must be vaccinated against COVD as soon as possible or face disciplinary action. At the same time I also saw that the city of New York has mandated vaccines for all public and school employees.

It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the President issues an executive order requiring proof of vaccination in order to pass through TSA security at airports now that the COVID vaccines will have full FDA approval. With all the problems of unruly passengers and mask wearing on airplanes, this is a welcome solution to air travel. I have been very reluctant to fly because I do not want to spend as much as six hours wearing a face mask not only on the plane but in the airport as well. I also would expect many employers will be mandating vaccinations for their employees or at least weekly COVID tests as a condition of their employment.

Another thing that I read is that perhaps the insurance companies will stop waiving all deductibles and copayments for COVID treatment for patients who are not vaccinated. Since the beginning of the pandemic, health insurance companies and Medicare have been waiving all deductibles and copayments for treatment of COVID patients. But now that the COVID vaccines will have full FDA approval, there is no reason to waive cost sharing for COVID treatment. COVID vaccines have always been and will continue to be at no cost to all Americans because it is a preventative service and a matter of public health.

More than anything else, making the individual responsible for all deductibles and copayments associated with treatment of COVID would force even the most reluctant person to get vaccinated since people usually listen when money talks. There is no such thing as “free” health care anywhere. Someone is always picking up the tab for anyone’s medical care. For most Americans it is their health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.

Even in the case where the government was picking up the tab for treating COVID patients and the cost for the vaccines, ultimately the cost of that will fall to the taxpayers. That is an important function of any government; to ensure the well being of its citizens. Regardless of political party or belief, this is a primary function of any government.

That is another reason why vaccination is so vitally important. Besides saving lives, vaccines also significantly reduce the cost of health care. Despite the billions of dollars spent in developing, producing and distributing a vaccine; that cost pales in comparison of paying for the care and treatment of those who become infected with the disease

Besides the economic costs of the business shut downs during the pandemic, the cost is also the lost productivity to any business when an employee or worker is sick with COVID. When a worker is sick, they are either not working or are not working at their best and in the case of COVID, one infected employee could infect the entire workplace making more people sick.

That is why companies began covering employees with health insurance in the first place. That goes back to the Second World War when there was a real shortage of labor with most young men off fighting the war. Their spots in the work force were filled by women and men too old to serve in the war. Companies making war material couldn’t afford to have any workers miss work because of sickness and it was in their best interest to have a healthy and productive work force.

Because women often had children at home, a sick child often meant that a mother couldn’t work since she was needed to care for her sick child. That is one reason why companies also covered family members and dependents. Some big employers established clinics at their plants so workers could easily see a doctor or a working mother could leave a sick child for care so she could work.

Kaiser Shipbuilding was the largest ship building company on the west coast in the 1940s and they were given the contract by the Navy to rebuild the Pacific fleet after the Japanese destroyed it at Pearl Harbor. They established a clinic at their Long Beach California plant for their workers and their families. That clinic eventually became the Kaiser Permanente Health System that still exists today.

So, now there is absolutely no excuse not get vaccinated against COVID 19. Vaccines save lives. There is nothing sadder than dying from a preventable disease.

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:48 PM, 09.01.2021