According to a spokeswoman for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and its subsidiaries, 250 of the company’s more than 10,000 employees were fired after they refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by the company’s Jan. 4 deadline.
- Requirement: The payer announced its vaccination requirement on Oct. 29, which resulted in 1,900 previously unvaccinated employees either needing to get the shot or an approved exemption. “We did not arrive at this decision lightly. We also recognize our responsibility to do our part, as a healthcare leader, to finish the fight against COVID-19 in our communities.”
- Mandates: “We value and respect all our employees and recognize there are strong and diverse views on the issue of the vaccine, and on the issue of mandating it,” Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan said in a statement.
- Exemptions: The spokesperson told that 96 percent of its employees are fully vaccinated, but did not provide figures on how many received a medical or religious exemption. The payer saw its first signs of resistance to the vaccine mandate in December after a handful of employees working for both Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and its subsidiary, the Accident Fund, filed labor complaints.
- Fined: Previously in April 2021, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was fined for failing to meet state COVID-19 workplace requirements. The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited BCBS of Michigan for not complying with provisions that allow employees to work from home when possible and require social distancing in the office.
- Steps: BCBS of Michigan’s fine totaled $7,000, which the insurer has appealed. In an emailed statement to Becker’s, BCBS of Michigan said: “Our company has taken significant steps to protect workers on-site in our facilities, including configuring our workspaces so they meet health and safety requirements[…]”