An Interesting Idea

Hmm.

Apparently, Quebec has given up on the carrot and is ready to try the stick. According to news reports, the roughly 13% of the province’s population that haven’t gotten at least one shot will have to pay a tax penalty.

It’s obvious that appeals to common sense have gone as far as they’re going to. And incentive programs have probably reached their limits as well. One can only offer so many lotteries, after all, and anyone who might be lured in by cash payments, offers of food and beverages, or merchandise promoting local sports franchises has probably succumbed to said temptation.

Although, as the BBC notes, this isn’t the first attempt to force the unvaccinated to pay–they cite a monthly fine in Greece and Singapore’s refusal to pay for health care for the unvaccinated–it does seem to be an approach that few politicians of any stripe are willing to propose.

So, kudos to Quebec for trying something a little different. Some details remain to be worked out, of course. The size of the tax bill hasn’t been set–one wonders if it’ll be a flat amount, a flat percentage, or some kind of graduated number based on age, income, or political affiliation–and I doubt whether there’s any agreement yet over whether refunds are possible if people do get vaccinated after paying up. Or, for that matter, whether a cut-off date has been set yet, or if there’s still time for people to get their shots and avoid the charge.

Any such plan in the U.S. would inevitably allow for medical and religious exemptions–making it entirely useless–and then be tied up in the courts for years anyway. Plenty of well-known anti-vaxxers north of the border; will Quebec’s plan run afoul of them?

All that said, I’d love to see a similar plan tried in a region with a much lower vaccinated percentage*. Any brave state politicians want to give it a shot?

* As of a couple of days ago, less than half of the populations of Mississippi, Alabama, Wyoming, and Idaho were fully vaccinated. For that matter, Quebec is doing better than any U.S. state: Vermont had the highest vaccination rate at 78.21%, slightly behind Quebec’s 78.32% rate.

There must be ways to make it slightly less of a political suicide pill. Plenty of states have taxes that are only imposed on certain people: gas taxes to pay for road repair, property taxes to pay for schools, and so forth. Maybe some states could make a non-vaccination tax fly by making it conditional: you only pay the tax–with the funds being earmarked to go to state hospitals–if you’re unvaccinated and are hospitalized for COVID-19.

Nah, never going to work in the U.S. But I look forward to hearing how it goes over in Quebec–and whether it actually raises the vaccination rate.

3 thoughts on “An Interesting Idea

  1. We saw on recent news that Canadia is refusing non-vaxxed entrants to liquor stores, which are run by the state. That oughta make a dent. As for sticks, insurance companies here could raise rates for unvaxxed, and hospitals could–well, unethical medically, I suppose, what I’m thinking. The tax? Might work.

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  2. I agree, Casey. Any such proposal would be political suicide for any politician (particularly in the “Red States”) that made it. But there’s another, perfectly plausible and fair way to do it: anyone who has chosen to remain unvaccinated must pay for their own medical expenses, when and if they fall ill. Insurance companies could (and, for all I know, already do) charge higher premiums (since it’s not a pre-existing condition), and, of course, no Medicare or ACA. There really needs to be some way that responsible citizens can shrug off at least some of the costs for ailments that people bring upon themselves- while, of course, endangering those of us who are helping them escape the possible consequences. Just a not-at-all modest proposal

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    • Regrettably, all it would take is one politician to say “That’s what the Commies in Singapore are doing.” to kill the proposal in those red states.

      And, of course, only that horrible Obamacare would consider cutting off Amurrican’s hard-earned benefits. That wonderful ACA (brought to you by ‘pulicans) would never do such an awful thing as make you pay your own way.

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