UNC Attempts Pro-Life Appeasement
Special Report - August 23, 2010
The UNC System Board of Governors is assuring students returning to college this month that those who enroll in the university-sponsored health insurance plan and opt-out of coverage for elective abortions will be grouped separately from students whose plans include the abortion coverage. The System has implemented a mandate that all students taking six or more credit hours must show proof of creditable insurance or else will find themselves automatically enrolled in a health insurance plan that covers elective abortions and domestic partners. The change is in response to uproar from students and pro-life groups that abortion does not constitute healthcare, that students should not be forced to enroll in a health insurance plan which they find morally objectionable, and that pro-life students should not see their premium fees go to pay for the abortions of their classmates’ children.
As we previously reported, on August 12, UNC System President Erskine Bowles directed the insurance provider, Pearce and Pearce, “to contact via email all UNC students who have chosen to enroll in the University-sponsored plan for the fall 2010 semester in order to provide the opportunity for any student to opt-out of the elective abortion coverage” and to institute an opt-out mechanism on the website where students activate their plan. Regardless of whether a student’s plan includes abortion coverage or not, the premium price will be the same. Students for Life of America (SFLA), which established the website www.noabortioninhealthcare.org as a response to the UNC plan, has continued to raise concerns that students are automatically enrolled in the plan that includes abortion coverage and can only remove that coverage after taking action online or calling Pearce & Pearce. Additionally, since there is no price differentiation between the two plans, concern has been raised over whether “the money is being co-mingled between the plans and is still going to be used to pay for abortions.” Finally, questions have been raised about the implications of students using federal grants or loans to pay for their “total cost of attendance,” which includes the cost of these insurance policies that cover elective abortions. Federal law prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions. Joni Worthington, an UNC spokeswoman, responded to FoxNews.com that “Whenever a student files a claim, that claim will be compared against the benefits included in the student’s policy grouping. Utilization of this elective benefit will be paid from the premiums within the grouping of students who did not opt out.”
On August 19, SFLA wrote to Governor Perdue, sharing “many concerns and questions that have not been fully answered” and asking her “to investigate the matter further.” Aside from concerns over the automatic enrollment in the abortion-inclusive plan, lack of cost differentiation, the prospect of co-mingled funds, and federal implications for student grants and loans, the letter posits “Abortion is not health care neither for the woman nor her preborn child,” and asks for details on “the process for selecting a health insurance provider and determining which services would be provided in the UNC plan.”
UNC Health Insurance Changes Fall Short - August 17, 2010
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