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Carrot on line with people chasing As always with vaccine incentives, the question is whether to use a carrot with discounts or a stick such as a premium hike. (Photo: freshidea/Adobe Stock)

(Bloomberg Opinion) –With the highly transmissible delta variant spreading rapidly in the U.S. and COVID-19 vaccine uptake in some areas still disappointingly low, it makes sense to push every lever available to get people protected. One underused tool is the cost of health coverage.

Health insurance is a significant expense for many Americans and could create powerful financial motivation for holdouts to get shots. Using it isn’t just the right thing to do for public health as cases surge. Higher vaccination rates can also save money for health plans by reducing avoidable and expensive COVID cases. Further, extra costs don’t just fall on the unvaccinated, but on their employers, colleagues via potential monthly premium increases, or other taxpayers.

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