Premiums to rise for non-vaccinated Michelin employees participating in health benefits program

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SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – A very large employer in the Upstate is telling their employees to get vaccinated or face a higher monthly healthcare premium. Michelin made the announcement Wednesday for all their workers participating in their health benefits.

A building brandishing a name that holds a lot of power in the Upstate and employs a little over 6,600 people in the area, Michelin.

“Michelin’s impact can’t be overstated,” said President/CEO of OneSpartanburg, Inc., Allen Smith.

Allen Smith with OneSpartanburg, Inc. told us, Michelin no doubt plays a major role in the local economy.

“Their facility here is not only one of the largest in the country, it’s one of the largest in the world so they’re a big player when it comes to economic development and job creation here in the Upstate,” Smith explained.

Now, they’re one of the first manufacturers their size in the area implementing a COVID vaccine policy. A spokesperson there said the financial burden of the pandemic has been significant to both the people and business. That’s why they’re trying to curb that by getting more employees vaccinated and charging an extra $100 a month in healthcare premiums for those who don’t.

This kind of policy is a first for Bruce Alexander with OpSource Staffing.

“So far, my clients are talking more about incentivizing vaccines rather than mandate vaccines,” said Bruce Alexander with OpSource Staffing.

He has been in the business for a long time and right now, he told us they’re facing the most job vacancies they’ve seen yet. He’s concerned mandates or penalizing workers who don’t get the shot, will add to an already major staffing shortage.

“The mandate is going to be bad for business because it’s going to limit an already limited applicant pool and we’re going to have even fewer people being able to consider coming to work,” Alexander said.

At the state level, Johnnie-Lynn Crosby with SC Works told us they’re slowly seeing more employers add a COVID vaccine requirement to their job descriptions. So far though, they haven’t been able to track if it has been deterring prospective workers.

“It hasn’t impacted the number of applicants. I think companies are struggling to identify multiple candidates as it is, so I’m not sure we’ve really been tracking whether that might be a deterrence,” Johnnie-Lynn Crosby with SC Works said.

The legality behind it all, Upstate Attorney John Reckenbeil said so far, private businesses aren’t doing anything against the law.

“If Michelin has a pool of money that they’re paying insurance claims out of and they’re not using a third party like Blue Cross Blue Shield, then they can do that because they’re literally paying the money out of their own pockets,” Upstate Attorney, John Reckenbeil said.

You can find the full statement from Michelin here:

At Michelin, the health and safety of our employees has been our top priority throughout the pandemic. Since the pandemic began, the costs have been significant, both to our people and our business. As a company, we must do more to mitigate these costs. Therefore, all U.S. employees participating in Michelin’s health benefits program who are not fully vaccinated by Nov. 24 will see their healthcare premiums increase by $100/month next year. We will continue to evaluate additional policies to encourage the highest possible vaccination rates at Michelin. Our focus remains on protecting our people and our business.

-Michelin North America, Inc.

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