Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!

COVID-19 Waivers for Employees

Some businesses are requiring employees to sign waivers stating they won’t sue the company if they contract COVID-19 on the job, but lawyers are warning this isn’t enforceable in court. “Courts don’t recognize them because of the unequal bargaining power between employers and employees,” attorney Isaac Mamaysky told Kaiser Health News.

Additionally, Mamaysky said, workers who get sick or injured are compensated through state workers’ comp, not through the court system. State laws prevent employers from forcing employees to sign away workers’ comp rights. Instead of waivers, employment lawyer David Barron suggests businesses lay out clear safety rules which are designed to protect staff, and have employees agree to abide by those rules.

Aetna Launches New High-Deductible Health Plans

The new plans are a twist on high-deductible health plans, offering some preventive services for free before the deductible kicks in. Upfront Advantage will offer access to services for up to $500 per individual and $1000 per family. Flexible Five will offer five coupons per person for services, including primary care, behavioral health, urgent care, lab tests, or x-rays.

Aetna hopes high-deductible health plan members will use these offerings to maintain routine healthcare they might put off due to the high cost before they meet their deductible. The plan boosts the deductible to cover the cost of the upfront services. “It really feels like a win-win for both the employer and the employee,” Aetna VP of health product solutions and management Justin Steinman told FierceHealthcare.

World’s Biggest COVID-19 Vaccine Test Begins

The first of 30,000 volunteers began their vaccine test Monday, according to the Associated Press. The vaccine being tested has been designed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna, Inc. Trial sites are located around the country, with volunteers receiving either a real vaccine or a placebo. Their progress will be tracked as they maintain daily life to see which group experiences more infections.

Through at least fall, a new wave of testing will roll out every month, sponsored by the U.S. government’s COVID-19 Prevention Network, which will match 30,000 new volunteers with leading candidates for a new vaccine. Trials will test the vaccine’s efficacy, as well as its safety. Scientists will then be able to compare data accurately between vaccine trials because of the matching conditions in each one.

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