The largest health system in Louisiana will soon start charging employees $200 per month — or $100 per pay period — if their spouses or partners who have benefits through the health system are unvaccinated, NOLA.com reported.
Top officials at Ochsner Health told employees that the policy, dubbed the “spousal COVID vaccine fee” is set to take effect in 2022.
Ochsner Health President and CEO Warner Thomas noted in a statement that the policy was similar to one used for tobacco users and noted that “the reality is the cost of treating COVID-19, particularly for patients requiring intensive inpatient care, is expensive,” according to KLFY NEWS 10.
Thomas said in his statement that the policy only applies to domestic spouses and partners covered under Ochsner Health’s benefits, and “this is not a mandate as non-employed spouses and domestic partners can choose to select a health plan outside of Ochsner Health offerings.”
He also noted that the organization would consider those who filed medical or religious exemptions for getting the vaccine, KLFY NEWS 10 reported.
“…we spent more than $9 million on COVID care for those who are covered on our health plans over the last year. We know that COVID-19 vaccination dramatically reduces transmission, severity of symptoms, hospitalizations, and death. Approximately 90% of those hospitalized with COVID in our facilities have been unvaccinated since vaccines were approved in December 2020,” Thomas said in his statement, according to KLFY NEWS 10.
“Widespread vaccination is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19, and we hope this change will encourage even more community members to get vaccinated,” he added.
Rust Wire has reached out to Ochsner Health for more information.
The announcement comes as health care systems grapple with how to handle an influx of COVID-19 patients, the majority of whom are unvaccinated.
The pandemic has required health care systems to stretch out resources, sometimes so severely that hospitals have initiated rationing care.
At the end of September, Alaska and Idaho began rationing care, making decisions on how to allocate limited resources. Several hospitals in Montana had either enacted or were seriously considering crisis standards of care.