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.

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“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.

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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.

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90 thoughts on “No, you can’t keep it: Franciscan University drops student coverage.

  1. Joan says:

    As a parent of an FUS senior, I say…GO STEUBIE!!! As usual, you are awesome and faithful. God will take care of it all. We need to trust Him, pray, and work to overturn all this evil. God Bless Franciscan University!! Joan

  2. [...] Crowe, an employee at Franciscan U., writes at Catholic Vote But there you have it: thanks to the government’s firm desire to make sure the one or two women [...]

  3. [...] Writing at CatholicVote, Tom Crowe, an employee at Franciscan University, blamed the mandate for Franciscan’s decision. [...]

  4. Sam Rocha says:

    All of this on the heels of honoring commence speaker Gen. Michael Hayden, a well known advocate of torture. I learned a VERY different approach to life issues when I was there: seamless garment. All of this in one week even. Wow. If FUS wants to be honorable and stand on principle, it ought to discontinue ALL insurance coverage across the board and encourage parents whose policies fund things they are opposed to do the same in solidarity with them. That I would be proud of. They would also never give honorary degrees to well known torture advocates and wagers of war (including ALL former US presidents).

    1. Sam Rocha says:

      For anyone interested, I wrote a piece at “Contending Modernities” on some deeper issues embedded in the healthcare disputes: http://blogs.nd.edu/contendingmodernities/2012/05/18/beneath-the-healthcare-wars-difficult-questions-about-living-and-dying/

      1. bpeters1 says:

        I appreciate your comments and the link, Sam.

  5. BlueBlood says:

    If this was truly an act to protect the University’s beliefs, I pose this question: Why are they continuing to cover employees? What is the difference? As I see it, this was a smokescreen to try to rile their conservative base against the President and his healthcare law. Only 200 students used the plan, and most of those will be covered under their parent’s policies, a benefit of ACA. Costs were going up, no one was really taking advantage of the benefits and it gave this charismatic conservative community a chance to take a swipe at the President during the campaign season. Really, President Obama cared more about these students than their church and school.

  6. Dean says:

    As a Catholic, I am embarrassed by the fanatics at places like Franciscan, with it’s dark-ages creepy curfews and other ways of treating adult students like children. The graduates from there I know come out more like brainwashed members of a cult than mature, 21st century adults. News flash: people have sex. It’s natural and normal.

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