Largest health system in Louisiana will charge employees for spouse's vaccination status

Healthcare workers
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In Louisiana, one of the largest health systems is planning on fining its employees whose spouses are not vaccinated for COVID-19. The fees, planned on being dealt out monthly, will be hundreds of dollars.

Warner Thomas, the CEO of the health system, Ochsner Health, shared with NOLA why they decided on making the change and charging its employees.

"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," Thomas said to NOLA.

Employees for Ochsner Health will start seeing a $200 charge per month, or a $1000 per pay period, if the person they are married to is not vaccinated, under the "spousal COVID vaccine fee."

The fee will only apply to domestic partners or spouses, not children or other dependents that employees have on their plans.

Some in the healthcare system have been attempting to fight vaccine mandates that have been put in place across the healthcare industry.

In Minnesota, a coalition of nurses have put together a lawsuit over COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Currently, around 150 nurses are joining the lawsuit.

Similar lawsuits across the country have been popping up as those opposed say that mandates are unconstitutional.

On the other hand, Dr. Michael Osterholm, a lead epidemiologist and the Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, shared last week that those working in the medical field who are unvaccinated have "chosen the wrong profession."

"I know that's hard, but at the same time, people's lives depend on what's happening here," Osterholm said.

Osterholm continued his candid commentary, sharing the tragic fate of those who were critical of his support for the vaccine and mandates last month.

"You know what's interesting, and I take no comfort in this at all," Osterholm said. "This is actually painful. The three of my most vocal critics over the past month, on Facebook and so forth, are all people who are now dead. All of them died from covid."

Those opposed to the decision by Ochsner to charge its employees took to Twitter sharing their disagreement.

The recurring fee will begin in 2022, and Thomas shared that it is not a mandate as employees can select a health plan outside of what Ochsner offers.

"This is not a mandate as non-employed spouses, and domestic partners can choose to select a health plan outside of Ochsner Health offerings," Thomas said to NOLA.

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