Ochsner Health, Louisiana’s largest nonprofit health care system, says it will charge employees enrolled in its 2022 health benefits program a fee for spouses and domestic partners who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 .
The fees are similar to those put in place for tobacco users and are in line with benefits offered by other healthcare organizations and companies, said Ochsner President and CEO Warner Thomas. , in a press release this week.
“This is not a mandate, as non-salaried spouses and domestic partners can choose to select a health plan outside of Ochsner Health’s offerings. As with our employee vaccination policy, spouses and domestic partners with medical and religious objections will be able to file exemption requests. “said the CEO.
In August, Ochsner Health announced a Covid-19 vaccination mandate for its doctors, providers and employees, saying they must be vaccinated by October 29.
As the provider tries to keep health premiums low for employees, Thomas said, “the reality is that the cost of treating COVID-19, especially for patients requiring intensive hospital care, is expensive. , and we’ve spent over $ 9 million on COVID care for those covered by our health plans over the past year. “
There are three Covid-19 vaccines available in the United States. When the highly contagious Delta variant caused Covid-19 cases to rise again over the summer, hospitals and local leaders across the country said the majority of hospital patients were unvaccinated.
A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis released in September estimated that the avoidable costs for treating inpatient and unvaccinated Covid-19 patients reached $ 5.7 billion in the previous three months.
About 90% of Covid-19 patients hospitalized at the provider’s facilities since the vaccines became available have not been vaccinated, Thomas said in his statement.
“We know that vaccination against COVID-19 dramatically reduces transmission, severity of symptoms, hospitalizations and deaths,” the statement added. “Widespread vaccination is essential to stop the spread of COVID-19, and we hope this change will encourage even more community members to get vaccinated. “
About 65.1% of eligible Americans have been fully immunized, according to data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About 45.5% of Louisiana residents are fully immunized.
The state had its worst outbreak of Covid-19 in the summer, and Gov. John Bel Edwards announced on Friday he was expanding a vaccine incentive program beyond students to include anyone in the State that receives a Covid-19 vaccine.
“Our COVID data shows Louisiana is fortunately coming down from our fourth and most dangerous surge. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the bad news is that we still have a lot of COVID in all 64 parishes,” he said. said Dr Joseph, head of public health. Kanter said in a statement. “We need to do everything we can to stay safe and stop the next wave, and that includes getting the COVID vaccine. “
Vaccines are free, safe and readily available throughout Louisiana, Kanter said, adding that “getting vaccinated has never been more urgent.”
Earlier this week, the governor also said he was extending the mandate of indoor masks statewide for another four weeks and also urged people to get vaccinated.
“In September alone, Louisiana reported 1,470 people died from COVID, which is tragic because we know the vast majority of those deaths were likely preventable,” the governor said in a statement. “We need to increase Louisiana’s immunization rate even further so that we have strong vaccine protection in our communities. Just over half of all people in Louisiana who are eligible for the vaccine are fully immunized. why masking right now is still important. “
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