In late November, Illinois state Rep. Jonathan Carroll filed legislation to amend the Illinois Insurance Code. It would deem a person eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine who chooses not to be vaccinated responsible for paying expenses related to COVID-19 hospitalization out of pocket.

"The people that are choosing to get vaccinated are not the ones that are clogging up the healthcare system — it's the ones that aren't," Carroll said in an interview.

The proposal garnered significant attention, with users on social media sharing concerns and support. Supporters of the legislation said unvaccinated people cost Illinois over $5 billion.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that 70% of the population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 71% of Illinois residents have received at least one dose. However, medical professionals say it is still necessary to urge more vaccination to prevent the continuous spread.

Two weeks after his proposal, Carroll released the following statement: "Due to the unintended divisive nature of HB4259, I've decided not to pursue this legislation. Based on feedback and further reflection, we need to heal as a country and work together on common-sense solutions to put the pandemic behind us." Carroll said the bill led to violent threats against staff and family from those who disagreed.

Carroll is not the only one proposing such measures. New York State Assemblyman Patrick Burke, a Democrat, is drafting legislation that would give insurance companies the option to deny unvaccinated people coverage for any COVID-19-related illnesses. New York's legislative session begins in January.

Still, the debate on handling insurance and medical costs for COVID-19 patients who refuse to get vaccinated continues.

"Why stop at COVID-19?" Kofi Ampaabeng from the Mercatus Center asked. "This [type of] bill seeks to dictate the terms of insurance coverage contract between private parties. It's an unnecessary intrusion into private contracts. Insurance companies should be able to design their coverage options without any interference from politicians. Individuals should be free to choose what insurance provider to use depending on the coverage."

Ted Dabrowski from Wirepoints, an independent nonprofit institution researching Illinois's economy and government, shared similar feelings, saying, "The bill is discriminatory against many groups, including those with natural immunities, those balancing health concerns, those who oppose vaccination due to religious grounds, the large percentage of minorities and others who don't yet feel comfortable getting vaccinated, and the young who are more concerned about the negative impacts of the vaccine than the impact of COVID. Second, the bill is illegal and goes counter to Carroll's own party's Obamacare, which calls for coverage for everyone. In the end, this was a spiteful bill meant to garner attention."

Singapore recently passed similar rules. On Dec. 8, the Ministry of Health declared that unvaccinated people would be responsible for their hospitalizations and treatment. Before the change, Singapore had covered the cost of care for all residents and long-term pass holders. Yet the country is among the most-vaccinated nations, with 83% of the population having received two shots.

"Unvaccinated persons make up a sizeable majority of those who require intensive inpatient care and disproportionately contribute to the strain on our healthcare resources," the ministry said in its November release. It allows existing healthcare financing provisions to cover bills where applicable.

While many states and international regions are implementing requirements, urging vaccination as the only solution, Florida takes a different approach. In November, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation preventing mandates, insulating people from government and businesses choosing to impose restrictions on those who have refrained from vaccination. Florida has one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the nation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent data determined the average number of new infections is roughly 118,000 a day. In addition, unvaccinated people are five times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated people, according to the CDC. Still, the public debate over policies meant to punish people for refusing to get vaccinated will continue.