(Emily Woodruff | NOLA.com) – As the deadline nears for Ochsner Health employees to get vaccinated or lose their jobs, the health system is also increasing pressure for employees’ family members to get a shot.
Ochsner, the state’s largest health system, will now add a health insurance surcharge of $100 per pay period for employees with unvaccinated domestic partners or spouses who are covered under the system’s benefits plan, according to a letter Ochsner leaders sent to employees.
The “spousal COVID vaccine fee,” will begin in 2022 and could deduct up to $2,400 yearly from an employee’s bi-weekly paycheck. According to the letter, the fee is only for domestic partners or spouses, not other dependents, such as children, who are covered by the employee’s health insurance and are eligible for vaccination.
The change comes after an evaluation of plan benefits, services and costs, CEO Warner Thomas said.
“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,” said Thomas in an emailed statement.
It’s becoming more common for employers to make unvaccinated people on employer-sponsored insurance plans pay more to cover the high potential cost of COVID care.
Delta Air Lines, for instance, announced it would raise health insurance premiums by $200 per month for unvaccinated employees starting Nov. 1. In a memo to employees, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said that COVID-19 hospitalizations cost the company an average of $50,000 per case.
Thomas said the surcharge is part of an effort to keep health premiums low for employees. Unvaccinated patients accounted for 90% of COVID hospitalizations in Ochsner facilities. Read Full Article >