On Friday, Wheaton College will stop providing student health insurance.
Officials at the evangelical Christian liberal arts college in the suburbs west of Chicago made the decision because they refuse — for religious reasons — to abide by the contraception provisions mandated under the Affordable Care Act, reports Crain’s Chicago Business.
Student health insurance expires on July 31. Students seeking health insurance options for the 2015-16 school year will have to look to private commercial insurers or to HealthCare.gov, the federal Obamacare exchange, for coverage.
“We regret that we were not able to provide earlier notice of this significant change, which affects roughly a quarter of our student body,” Paul Chelsen, Wheaton’s vice president for student development, wrote in a July 22 statement obtained by Crain’s. “The college is considering all of its options and will explore the possibility of again offering a (student health insurance plan) in the future if circumstances allow us to do so in good conscience.”
The evangelical school has been involved in significant legal action against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The decision to end Wheaton’s student insurance program appears to be related to this denial.
The Obamacare birth control mandate originally required employers to provide 20 types of contraception to employees at no cost, but the administration offered an accommodation in response to outcry from religious employers that oppose certain types of birth control.
The Supreme Court took Obamcare opponents’ side in previous cases, causing the Obama administration to back off its prized mandate. However, Wheaton and other religious colleges have remained unsatisfied. (RELATED: Supreme Court Grants Christian College Injunction Over Obamacare Religious Exemption)
The actual lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is still pending.
A Chicago Tribune columnist, Heidi Stevens, criticized Wheaton’s decision to cancel all student insurance.
“I would argue, it’s a violation of the trust” which “students and their parents placed in Wheaton College when they chose to invest their time and money there,” Stevens, who holds a prestigious bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University, wrote.
U.S. News ranks Wheaton College as America’s 56th-best national liberal arts college.
Wheaton’s motto is “For Christ and His Kingdom.”