BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — An Ochsner Health spokesperson confirmed that the healthcare system will be adding a Spousal COVID Vaccine Fee to their employees’ medical insurance plans in 2022.
The $100 per-pay-period fee will apply to unvaccinated spouses/domestic partners who are included as dependents in an employee’s Ochsner medical insurance plan.
Statement from Ochsner Health President and CEO Warner Thomas:
Each year, Ochsner Health evaluates health insurance and other benefits based on feedback from our employees and changes that impact benefits, services and costs. Our competitive benefits plans are one of many offerings that make Ochsner a top employer in the Gulf South.
One change to the upcoming 2022 healthcare benefits offering is a cost adjustment for adult dependents (spouses and domestic partners) who are not vaccinated against COVID-19. This fee is similar to what’s been in place for tobacco users and is in line with the benefits offered by many healthcare organizations and companies.This is not a mandate as non-employed spouses and domestic partners can choose to select a health plan outside of Ochsner Health offerings. As with our employee vaccination policy, spouses and domestic partners with medical and religious objections will be able to file exemption requests.
As a self-insured organization, we work hard every year to keep our health premiums low for our employees and their families. The reality is the cost of treating COVID-19, particularly for patients requiring intensive inpatient care, is expensive, and 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.
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. We encourage employees with questions about employee benefits to send questions directly to the Ochsner HR Solution Center.