A Catholic institution, the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, is dropping its entire student health insurance plan as of the fall semester 2012 because of the new federal birth control rules mandating contraception coverage. While other dissenting educational institutions and organizations are filing lawsuits, Franciscan is doing away with the root of the problem – it’s getting rid of the entire student health plan. No health plan, no mandatory contraception coverage that contradicts its values.
The school has announced on its website “Up to this time, Franciscan University has specifically excluded these services and products from its student health insurance policy, and we will not participate in a plan that requires us to violate the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of human life.” The website further mentioned that “The Obama Administration has mandated that all health insurance plans must cover ‘women’s health services’ including contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing medications as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).”
Thus, the school informed the public that the university will not be able to offer student health insurance and will cease to require that all full-time undergrads have health insurance.
However, the announcement by the school has been criticized as misleading as the birth control coverage mandate has exemptions for religious organizations including Catholic schools, and would require insurance companies to ‘directly and separately’ pay for the birth control coverage of the insured. Even non-profit schools have been provided a one-year transition period to comply with the new requirements. Under the conditions, the decision of the school to put students out of health insurance without offering sufficient alternatives is confusing and distressing.
However, the webpage statement announced to the students, “We encourage you to decide how you are going to provide for accidents or illnesses requiring visits to physicians, health clinics, or the hospital emergency room while you are a student here.”
Strange things do happen during the election year.