Louisiana’s largest health care system will soon begin charging employees $200 per month — or $100 per pay period — if their spouses or partners who receive benefits through the health care system are not vaccinated, reported. NOLA.com.
Senior Ochsner Health officials told employees the policy, dubbed the “spouse’s COVID vaccine fee,” is expected to take effect in 2022.
Ochsner Health President and CEO Warner Thomas noted in a statement that the policy was similar to that used for tobacco users and noted that “the reality is that the cost of treating COVID-19 , especially for patients requiring intensive hospital care, is costly”.
Thomas said in his statement that the policy only applies to spouses and domestic partners covered by Ochsner Health benefits, and “it is not a mandate as unemployed spouses and domestic partners may choose to select a health plan outside of Ochsner Health’s offerings.”
He also noted that the organization would consider those who have filed medical or religious exemptions to get vaccinated.
“We have spent over $9 million on COVID care for those covered by our health plans over the past year. We know that vaccination against COVID-19 significantly reduces transmission, severity of symptoms, hospitalizations and deaths. Approximately 90% of people hospitalized with COVID at our facilities have not been vaccinated since the vaccines were approved in December 2020,” Thomas said in his statement, according to KLFY NEWS 10.
“Widespread vaccination is key to stopping the spread of COVID-19, and we hope this change will encourage even more community members to get vaccinated,” he added.
The announcement comes as health systems grapple with how to handle an influx of COVID-19 patients, the majority of whom are unvaccinated.
The pandemic has forced health systems to stretch resources, sometimes so severely that hospitals have begun rationing care.
In late September, Alaska and Idaho began rationing care, making decisions about how to allocate limited resources. Several hospitals in Montana had adopted or were seriously considering crisis care standards.
Updated: October 2, 2021, 9:31 a.m.