Boston College is continuing a review of its Blue Care Elect Preferred plan, which first began in September. According to Thomas McGuinness, Director of University Counseling and a 20 year veteran of the university counseling department, this review is part of an annual effort to maintain the quality of the health insurance plan while ensuring that it falls in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church. McGuinness was able to confirm, however, that both voluntary abortions and voluntary sterilizations are specifically excluded from the policy by the university.
Both voluntary abortions and voluntary sterilizations are part of the initial basket that is offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield to employers and universities. Boston College works with its insurance agency, Gallagher Koster, and chooses to exclude parts of the basket that would conflict with the religious nature of the school. Although elective abortion is not covered under the policy, birth control and contraception will remain part of the insurance plan because of Massachusetts State Law.
Effective June 5, 2002, Massachusetts state law mandates that all employers provide “benefits for outpatient prescription drugs and devices shall provide benefits for hormone replacement therapy for peri and post menopausal women and for outpatient prescription contraceptive drugs or devices which have been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration under the same terms and conditions as for such other prescription drugs or devices…”
The law does provide an exemption for Church and Church-controlled institutions but Boston College is ineligible to receive such an exemption. Patrick Rombalski, Vice President of the Offices of Student Affairs, commented that “the state of Massachusetts views BC as an independent organization and not part of the Church. Of course we are related to the Church but Boston College is an independent not-for-profit, separate from the Church. That would be true of all Catholic universities and colleges with very few exceptions.”
These few exceptions seem to concern Catholic colleges and universities that were begun by specific dioceses or archdioceses, not religious orders, such as the Jesuits. Rombalski was quick to assert that although Boston College is legally independent from the Church, it is tied to the Church through philosophy. The Code of Canon Law, parts 793-821, articulate this relationship.
According to Rombalski, the university is currently working to update materials in Student Services so that students can easily track the benefits that they are covered for under the insurance policy. At least some of the materials in Student Services list the BC insurance agency as “Koster Insurance Agency, INC” which, according to McGuinness, became Gallagher Koster “about two years ago.”
Boston College’s insurance plan has gained publicity on the web, being cited on several blogs and the Cardinal Newman Society website.