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Letters to the Editor: Make the unvaccinated pay for their recklessness with higher insurance costs

A protester in a T-shirt reading "COVID is a scam" stands next to a woman draped in an American flag.
People demonstrate against mask and vaccine mandates near the Santa Monica Pier on Aug. 29.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Your article on unvaccinated and otherwise healthy younger COVID-19 patients crowding hospitals is noteworthy. Unvaccinated Americans are breeding grounds for dangerous coronavirus variants, which prolong the pandemic, costing us billions of dollars and threatening everyone.

Achieving herd immunity is estimated to require vaccination levels between 70% and 90% of the population. There are too many who are vaccine-reluctant.

Unfortunately, mere warnings aren’t adequate to improve health behaviors. For example, warning messages on cigarette packages don’t reduce smoking rates, and posting speed limits typically do not lower driving speeds.

However, increasing the cost of a health behavior often changes people’s behavior. Warning labels may not lower smoking rates but cigarette taxes do.

With this in mind, to expand immunizations, unvaccinated Americans should be required to be in a high-cost, high-risk insurance pool. Medical claims above a certain threshold would be reimbursed by the pool, with additional charges to those who remain unvaccinated as financial reserves become depleted.

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This should increase inoculations. Americans who refuse vaccination should pay for their recklessness.

Linn Goldberg, M.D., Lake Oswego, Ore.

Louis Speizer, Flemington, N.J.

Goldberg is a professor emeritus at the Oregon Health and Science University. Speizer, a physiologist with a doctorate, has worked in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry for 30 years.

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To the editor: You reported that one of the vociferous opponents of vaccination requirements at a rally in Santa Monica described it as a form of “medical tyranny” while also carrying a sign opposing abortion.

In other words, no one can tell him he should be vaccinated, but he can tell women what to do with their bodies.

Michael E. Mahler, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Grinning like a child congratulated on being able to tie his own shoes, a man who appears to be slathered in sunscreen is pictured proudly wearing a “COVID is a scam” shirt.

Curiously absent from the numerous signs and placards displayed was any that read, “Smallpox is a scam.” I did not see anything that referred to measles, pertussis, diphtheria, polio, tetanus, the flu, hepatitis or rubella as a scams.

These are now reasonably under control thanks to vaccination.

S.H. Kardener, M.D., Santa Monica


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