Ochsner Health System employees who have an adult dependent on their insurance plan, who has not been vaccinated for COVID-19, will have to pay an extra $2400 annually for insurance coverage for that dependent starting 2022. That's an additional $200 per month.

COVID-19 has put a tremendous burden on health care costs for health care systems and insurance companies. Ochsner Health System, a self-insured company,  is attempting to ease the financial burdens on the entire system all while keeping its employees and adult depends healthy. Ochsner already requires employees to be vaccinated (as of August 2021) and although the health care giant cannot demand adult dependents get vaccinated as well, those who chose not to will have to pay more for coverage.

President and CEO  Warner Thomas of Ochsner Health says, COVID-19 vaccination dramatically reduces transmission, severity of symptoms, hospitalizations, and death."

Each year, Ochsner Health evaluates health insurance and other benefits based on feedback from our employees and changes that impact benefits, services and costs. Our competitive benefits plans are one of many offerings that make Ochsner a top employer in the Gulf South.

One change to the upcoming 2022 healthcare benefits offering is a cost adjustment for adult dependents (spouses and domestic partners) who are not vaccinated against COVID-19. This fee is similar to what’s been in place for tobacco users and is in line with the benefits offered by many healthcare organizations and companies. This is not a mandate as non-employed spouses and domestic partners can choose to select a health plan outside of Ochsner Health offerings. As with our employee vaccination policy, spouses and domestic partners with medical and religious objections will be able to file exemption requests.

As a self-insured organization, we work hard every year to keep our health premiums low for our employees and their families. 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. We know that COVID-19 vaccination dramatically reduces transmission, severity of symptoms, hospitalizations, and death. Approximately 90% of those hospitalized with COVID in our facilities have been unvaccinated since vaccines were approved in December 2020.

Widespread vaccination is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19, and we hope this change will encourage even more community members to get vaccinated. We encourage employees with questions about employee benefits to send questions directly to Ochsner HR Solution Center.. -Warner Thomas, President and CEO of Ochsner Health

Ochsner's insurance hike gets national attention

Ochsner Health is the largest non-profit health care system in the state of Louisiana. Ochsner’s team includes more than 32,000 employees and over 4,500 providers.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.