It begins: Catholic university drops all health-insurance coverage in response to HHS mandate

Actually, it’s not just the mandate, but also the costs that will drive Franciscan University to bail out of the health-insurance business.  Before now, the Catholic institution required all students to carry health insurance; those who did not have them were required to buy insurance through the school.  That’s not entirely dissimilar to the ObamaCare mandate, although of course attendance at the school is entirely voluntary.

Franciscan University put the HHS contraception mandate as its first justification, however:

“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),” the university says in a new post 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.”

“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,” FUS continues.

“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 college said.

A Franciscan University employee blasted the Obama administration and the HHS mandate in an essay at Catholic Vote:

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, abortofacients [sic], and sterilization procedures, our 2,500 students will no longer have an insurance plan ready and waiting for them.

As LifeNews points out, Franciscan warned of this outcome in September, while the Obama administration contemplated how to structure the religious exemption to the contraception/sterilization mandate.  Dozens of Catholic colleges and universities insisted that they would not comply with a government mandate to provide products and services that violate religious doctrine.  As a result, in just this one case, hundreds if not thousands of students will have to get their coverage from the government, subsidized by taxpayers, unless they can get coverage from Mom & Dad.

The cost issue shows that the problem won’t end with the religious exemption.  Franciscan is a relatively small school, one that cannot self-insure and save costs through managing their own premiums.  Many small businesses will have the same problems meeting the new coverage mandates even apart from contraception and sterilization, making it easier to pay the penalties for not providing the insurance and throwing employees onto public subsidies instead.  That will cause an explosion in the overall cost of ObamaCare, and a much higher burden for taxpayers.

Franciscan’s refusal to comply with the HHS edict shows that this issue will not go away quietly for Obama among Catholics and members of other faiths less inclined to vote Democrat.  As more Catholic institutions opt out, the issue will get more and more acute for Obama as bishops press hard for freedom of religious conscience.

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