The Largest Hospital System in Louisiana Wants to Charge Staffers for Unvaccinated Spouses

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Louisiana’s largest hospital system will soon begin charging employees who are on the company’s health care plan if their spouses have not been vaccinated.

Starting in the new year, Ochsner Health has told employees it will begin charging $200 per pay period according to a Spousal COVID Vaccine Fee if their spouses or domestic partners have yet to be vaccinated.

This is in addition to a vaccine requirement for all employees which must be met by October 29, USA Today reports.

“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,” CEO Warner Thomas told The Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate in an email.

The fee would not apply to unvaccinated children covered by the health care plan, even if they are eligible for the vaccine. No vaccine is yet available for children under the age of 12.

Thomas was clear that the Spousal COVID Vaccine Fee is not a requirement for employee’s spouses to get vaccinated, as families are free to opt out of the hospital’s health care coverage.

Meanwhile, USA Today notes, the state of Louisiana recently began offering cash card rewards of $100 to encourage residents to get vaccinated. The offer used to be available to college students but Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards announced last week that it was being extended to the general public as well.

“If you’ve not yet been able to go sleeves up yet, we’re hoping a cool $100 will help make the decision easier,” he said.

Roughly 45% of Louisiana’s population is fully vaccinated.

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