Louisiana Hospital System to Dock Pay of Employees With Unvaccinated Spouses

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Just when you thought things couldn’t get more insane, a Louisiana company has sent a memo to employees saying they plan to fine any employee with a spouse who refuses to be vaccinated for COVID.

Ochsner Health Systems is a New Orleans-based health provider. Employees received a memo this week explaining that their paychecks would begin to be docked if they carry a spouse on their insurance plan who is unvaccinated. A Twitter user posted a copy of the memo to social media on Thursday morning.

Good Afternoon,

You’re receiving this email because you currently have a spouse or domestic partner as a dependent on your 2021 Ochsner benefits plan. To ensure you have additional time to plan ahead for your 2022 benefits options, we’re sharing one of the latest changes directly with you ahead of the materials that will be sent to you electronically and via Ochweb.

New in 2022: Ochsner is implementing a new Spousal COVId Vaccine Fee as part of its 2022 medical plan premiums. This means, if a spouse/domestic partner is covered by one of our medical plans in 2022 and unvaccinated against COVID-19, a $100-per-pay-period fee will apply.

The company claims that it cannot be characterized as a mandate because Ochsner employees have the option of seeking medical insurance outside of their network.

But let’s think about how utterly chilling (and probably illegal) this mandate – and yes, it is a mandate because a rose by any other name and all that – truly is.

It is one thing to require your direct employees to adhere to certain medical practices, but it is quite another to make demands on their free spouses. And it is one thing to require people to pay a higher premium for more risky behaviors (smokers often pay more because they represent higher health costs) but it is quite another to directly punish someone for their own health choices.

Ochsner isn’t saying they will not cover the healthcare costs of any unvaccinated spouse who happens to come down with COVID. They are saying they will reach directly into the wallets of employees who are doing their jobs and presumably doing them well and take money out their pockets during one of the most unstable economic times in our history, just for something their spouse decides to do or not to do.

That’s the truly egregious part. How steep does that slippery slope get? Will they start fining people weekly if their spouses smoke, or drink too much, or neglect to get an annual flu shot?

It might be imaginable – if not despicable – that a company could decide simply to not cover a spouse’s medical expenses should that person incur injury due to “irresponsible” behavior. To actively deny an employee pay as they are in good standing as employees seems downright fascist.

There is no way this will not see a day in court at some point.

The memo went on to say that for now, it only applies to spouses.

Oh, how kind!

One commenter on Twitter claims to be a physician with the hospital and says he will not comply.

An increasing amount of medical professionals are refusing vaccine mandates. At one moment in the pandemic battle we were scolded for thinking of them as anything other than unconditionally heroic. Now we are making enemies out of them.

Let’s hope these brave professionals can have their voices heard among the din of the elitist media class.