New Health Care Plan Adopted for 2011

Conference lay and clergy members voted to approve a resolution for a new Health Care Plan for 2011 at the Adjourned Session of Annual Conference on Saturday, November 13, 2010.

In May 2010, the Annual Conference had approved RESOLUTION 2010-13  to move to a high deductible health care attached to a health Savings Plan (HAS) effective January 1, 2011.   The approved resolution also stated that the conference would deposit up to half of the high deductible amount into each clergy participant’s HSA.  The Group Insurance arm of the Board of Pension and Health Benefits, in consultation with Valley Forge Benefits Consulting, was charged with researching carriers and plans, and bringing a recommendation back to the Adjourned Session of Annual Conference on November 13, 2010.

Over the course of the past five months, Requests for Proposals (RFP’s) were submitted to five different vendors regarding 4 different plans design choices.  Two vendors declined to quote, and of the three that did submit a quote, only two were considered viable:  Our current carrier, Independence Blue Cross (IBC) and Aetna.  The Group Insurance Committee spent a great deal of time digging into the different plan designs and the cost of each plan – both to the conference/local church and to the participants.  Additionally, once the committee narrowed down the plan designs to several choices, we ran many different scenarios for sharing the cost for health care to our clergy and lay employees.  Many of you submitted ideas, suggestions, and questions – and all ideas were shared and discussed.

Aetna’s HSA 3 Model has been approved as the new plan.  (For general plan design comparison, CLICK HERE)  This is the only model that will reduce both the cost to the local church and the participant contribution.  The High deductible for this plan will be $2000 for Single Coverage and $4000 for non Single Coverage.  As stated in the resolution from May, the Conference (Local Church) will deposit half that amount into each clergy participant’s HSA.  It is the intent of the Board, and the charge of the approved resolution, to do this on an annual basis – not just for 2011.  To help you see the difference between our current plan cost and the HSA 3 model cost per participant we have created a HEALTH CARE COST TOOL.  (You will need to enable content.)

The HSA 3 plan, while having a higher deductible, covers everything 100% after the deductible is met, except for prescriptions, which revert to a formulary copay.  HSA2 has less of a deductible, but does not cover 100% after it is met, and HSA1, has less of a deductible, but has a higher premium overall.  To see the comparison of what the composite rate would be for each of the plan choices, CLICK HERE.

In addition to the plan itself, and the cost of such plan, there are a multitude of components that need to be considered:

  • In 1998, The Annual Conference voted to allow the health insurance plan to be a voluntary plan.  While the intent of the resolution was to allow the conference to drop participants for non-payment .  This never actually transpired.  An addendum to that resolution called for churches with a pastor who waived coverage to setup a fund equal to that year’s composite rate so that at any given time they could then take on an appointment with a pastor in the conference health insurance plan.  Again, this never really came to fruition.  All we have succeeded in doing is creating a smaller and smaller pool of participants that are increasingly less healthy.  (Also, the resolution mandated that clergy were not able to opt out of several portions of the “group” plan.)
  • In 2001, the Annual Conference voted to charge an amount equal to 1.5% of the plan cost to create a fund for grants to missional churches, as designated by cabinet, to help fund their health care costs.
  • The policy for the EPA Conference Health Plan states that we must keep 3 months worth of premium in reserves.  Over the past several years we have depleted this account to a point where we are no longer in compliance with our own policy – We should be at $1.5 million, instead, we are at $850,000.  We understand that it would be impossible to make up the difference all at once, but we feel we need to have a plan to recover our position.

To that end, we have spent a great deal of time considering how to equitably bill this out to local churches and participants in a way that is clear and transparent.  The composite rate does not include any missional amounts, and the mandatory health care items are also separated out.  To see the HSA3 plan design, CLICK HERE.

Because of all the details that need to be in place in order for participants to have access on day one of the plan, January 1, 2011, we have begun to make preparations for a move to this plan, including dates for open enrollment meetings for active and retired participants on each district.   For a list of Open enrollment meeting dates, please CLICK HERE.

For more information, contact Jo Fielding at 610-666-9090, ext. 213 or jo.fielding@epaumc.org.