“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 of Ochsner Health, Warner Thomas, told NOLA.
Ochsner Health will start charging employees $200 per month, or $100 per pay period, if their spouse or partner is unvaccinated. The “spousal COVID vaccine fee” will begin in 2022, and Thomas said it is not a mandate, saying non-employed spouses and domestic partners can select a health plan outside the Ochsner’s offerings.
“This is not a mandate as non-employed spouses and domestic partners can choose to select a health plan outside of Ochsner Health offerings,” he told NOLA.
The fee only applies to domestic partners or spouses, not other dependents such as children, who are covered by the employee’s health insurance.
The announcement was met with condemnation by some on social media, including the Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian student activism organization.
“This is a taste of what’s coming. There is no end to the madness. Brace,” YAL’s official Twitter account posted Friday.
The rollout of vaccine mandates in hospitals is spurring nurses and other healthcare workers across the country to quit their jobs or face termination over their refusal to comply with the rules. Protests have also formed in recent weeks with healthcare workers holding signs reading phrases such as, “We are still essential,” “Say no to vaccines and yes to freedom of choice,” “Healthcare heroes demand medical freedom,” and “Don’t fire last year’s heroes.”
“We were celebrated last year,” Indiana nurse Adara Allen told Fox News this week. “But a few nurses did end up leaving due to [the hospital] not accepting their medical issues or having a reaction or adverse effect to the first dose of the covid vaccine.” Allen was told to no longer come into her hospital in Indianapolis over refusing the vaccine during her high-risk pregnancy.