No, you can’t keep it: Franciscan University drops student coverage.

Author’s note: After a discussion in the comments and investigation on my part I have added a postscript clarifying something that may have been inaccurate but was not. Cheers.


“If you like your health care coverage you can keep it. ”

In various phrasings this was one of the more oft-repeated reasons  we were given to support, or at least not to oppose, Obamacare. But like so many other things that have come out of this administration, it also turns out not to be true.

To be sure, the President and HHS are not forcibly kicking anyone off their health insurance plan. Yet. But we knew before the ink was dry that companies would very likely have a financial incentive to drop health care coverage altogether and dump their employees onto the public exchanges.

No, we were told, that wouldn’t be the case. Lo and behold: it is the case.

Even after paying a penalty of $2,000 per employee, the companies [surveyed] stand to save $28.6 billion in 2014 alone by shifting employees to health insurance exchanges governed by strict federal standards. The companies stand to save more than $422 billion over the first 10 years of the law by doing this.

So that’s one way Obamacare brings about “you” losing the health care plan that you like. Employers, until Obamacare was passed, were not compelled to offer health insurance but they did do because it is expected and good for business—good luck getting top-notch employees if health insurance coverage is not among the benefits. Under Obamacare employers can both assure that employees have health insurance coverage by dumping them onto the exchanges, and can save lots of money and headache. Win-win.

But now there is another device by which Obamacare violates the “if you like it you can keep it” pledge: the HHS Mandate.

See, part of reason I like my current health insurance plan offered by my employer, Franciscan University of Steubenville, is that it does not waste money on things I will never use because they are morally repugnant to me, like contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacients. The HHS mandate purports to force me into a plan that I do not want rather than the plan I’ve been very happy with. But that’s a still-pending issue because of the one-year extension given (not that we will comply even after a year, of course).

But a more-present impact of the mandate directly affects students. The following is now posted on Franciscan’s  “Student Health Insurance Plan” page:

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). 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.

Additionally, the PPACA increased the mandated maximum coverage amount for student policies to $100,000 for the 2012-13 school year, which would effectively double your premium cost for the policy in fall 2012, with the expectation of further increases in the future.

Due to these changes in regulation by the federal government, beginning with the 2012-13 school year, the University 1) will no longer require that all full-time undergraduate students carry health insurance, 2) will no longer offer a student health insurance plan, and 3) will no longer bill those not covered under a parent/guardian plan or personal plan for student health insurance. The current student health insurance plan will expire on August 15, 2012.

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. As always, our Health Center on campus will be staffed by a certified nurse practitioner Monday – Friday during normal business hours. No insurance is necessary to receive basic health-related services at the Health Center, and the visits cost only $5 at the time of service. However, if you are referred off campus for further lab testing, physician specialists, X-rays, etc., you will be responsible to pay for those services.

In short: We. Will. Not. Comply. And our students are the first one who will feel the pinch.

Those who are left high and dry by the administration’s intrusion into our freedom to practice our faith are our students. Who knows how many will have insurance, how many will not, how many will have insurance of the quality we offered before, how many will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance through the extended adolescence provision of Obamacare, etc.

But there you have it: thanks to the government’s firm desire to make sure the one or two women left in the country who did not have easy and cheap access to contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization procedures, our 2,500 students will no longer have an insurance plan ready and waiting for them.


P.S. After initial posting a commenter pointed out that it appeared that our student health insurance plan was self-insured and thus would have been exempt from the HHS mandate. I exchanged emails with a senior administrator with intimate knowledge of the decision making. He assured me that our plan was not, in fact, self-insured—we are simply too small to make that economical. Our students are among the 800,000 who are covered by fully-insured plans we purchase on their behalf.

Further, according to this administrator, the “exception” even for self-insured plans is ambiguous and likely on paper only. In implementation the HHS would likely rule the same as the so-called accommodation, requiring the third-party administrators of self-insured plans to cover the items and procedures “for free,” which of course is a farce.

So the post stands as written.



  • Colleen Barry

    Franciscan University has no choice. While Obama is in office our country’s historic Religious Liberty is now gone.

  • Peter Fontana

    The reason is fascinating that people give for their outrage about human beings who, in wanting to protect the life of other human beings who cannot protect their own lives, make decisions such as Franciscan University did to combat this current healthcare mandate.

    Inevitably, they turn to a reason (similar to the ones we’ve seen hear) along the lines of limiting the right of women to “choose” or that we are just hurting the little guy who is left out in the dark without coverage.

    To answer the first question, Obamacare effectively completely obliterated the right for women to choose AGAINST contraceptives, by forcing them to pay a portion of the cost for women who choose to use them.

    As fas as the second goes, it was NEVER a right to have healthcare in the United States. It is a privilege and a business in a capitalist economy that the Insurance company’s have exploited to the nth degree.

    The average family spends around $4,968 per year ($414 a month ) on health care premiums (not including what their employers shell out). The average family expenses per year are only $3,301 ($275 a month ). That shows that we are already paying 34% more for coverage than we would spend any given year if we just paid cash for medical costs.

    So what if something catastrophic happens you say? That’s why my wife and I have a “Catastrophic Plan”: We saved up for 2 years to have an emergency fund that equals the deductible on our “catastrophic health care plan” (around $150 per month for the family) that kicks in at 80/20% after the deductible is me in a year. Then we pay the cash price for any doctors/emergency room visits, births, pharmacy etc. needs. Last year these expenses completely totaled out to around$4,600 (premiums included) for a family with 2 kids. If we would have been on employer provided healthcare… these costs would have reached $8,269 (avg premiums plus avg expenses).

    I went to University of Houston (a pretty liberal University) and even our economics textbooks had this exact line in it: “We don’t expect car insurance to pay for oil changes and tire rotations, why do we in turn expect health insurance to pay for our regular checkups and seasonal colds?”.

    It was the ingeniously capitalistic business positioning of the health insurance companies over the past 50 years that pushed employers to cover more and more and convince the common populace that the Doctors are out to get us and we need coverage for every single touch with the medical world. As capitalists, it is the consumers job to push back with consumer demands (as Franciscan is doing) and competition (though Obamacare is eliminating the ability for insurance companies to provide morally conscionable plans).

    As a student right now, you can get your own private catastrophic plan for less than $40 bucks a month, your parents will almost certainly be good for the deductible should something huge happen.

    Franciscan is not only making the moral choice, but also giving the opportunity for students to learn how to make sound financial decisions so as to be good stewards of the money that God has blessed them with.

  • Pingback: Franciscan University of Steubenville drops student health plan over HHS mandate | Catholic Canada

  • Pingback: Obamacare Causes Franciscan University to Stop Offering Health Insurance

  • Jason C.

    Our students are among the 800,000 who are covered by fully-insured plans we purchase on their behalf.

    Use that money, hire a doctor and some P.A.s or nurse practitioners, maybe even a pharmacist, and run a free clinic for your students. Students could work there in a work-study, keeping overhead as low as possible.

    If enough other conscientious groups drop their insurance, you might be able to band together to share resources, and maybe even offer services akin to the 24-hour emergency cash-only clinics you see popping up everywhere.


    • colleen Barry

      Get Obama out of office so this mess Obamacare and ending “religious Liberty” can be fixed. We have to do this. Only option.

  • Tim Rohr

    Actually, my argument is based on the comments of Bishop Thomas Curry of Los Angeles and the speech he gave at Catholic U. Curry is a First Amendment scholar and has opined that the HHS mandate is not unconstitutional, that it is NOT a violation of religious liberty, but that the exemption, as worded, is, and that it is in the wording of the exemption that Catholic institutions must make their case.

    But in any event, I assume that your student fees include a portion for providing health coverage. If so, will Franciscan be lowering their fees proportionately? Students will need the extra money to find other coverage.

    • Tom Crowe

      Tim— The insurance fee was a separate line on the invoice sent to students and their parents, so it will simply be eliminated. As for the first part, Bishop Curry’s position is at odds with the majority of opinion we have heard on the matter. Seems like a matter for the courts to decide.



Receive our updates via email.