Over the past few years, the conference has struggled to pay the health insurance costs in an environment of health care market volatility; double digit cost increases partially caused by our claim history and non-payment of premiums by local churches challenged with meeting their budgets. The hard truth is that many churches are behind in their remittance payments to the conference – 18 churches have paid $0 toward their remittances leaving the group insurance plan short by $136 thousand as of September 2016. We have consistently ended each year with a deficit for health insurance premiums. If this bill is not paid on time we risk termination from our vendor. Local churches who pay their health insurance obligation in full – often sacrificing ministry to do so – are subsidizing those who do not pay.
Following our decision to eliminate the Gold and Bronze options this year, we received an updated quote from Independence Blue Cross with further increases to the two Silver options. The Board revised the cost and altered the model for collections to include a cost factor for participants as well as an 8.75% cushion overall to proactively plan for uncollected premiums. This is not a solution to the problem; it is a stopgap measure to ensure we have the cash flow necessary to make our monthly payments.
“Clergy and Lay will be required to pay 8% of premium costs in 2017. This is a change from the information sent to local churches on 11/1 prior to receiving the final updated plan cost.”
To try and bill churches an amount they can afford to pay, in 2017 churches will be billed a composite rate based upon their three year AGTP (Adjusted Grand Total Paid)Table (1). Participants will contribute 8% of a blended premium cost as a salary reductionTable 3). Premiums remain a tax free salary reduction. Churches will be billed a rate for laity participantsTable (2) and cannot pass on any more than 8% of the premium to those enrolled to keep our plan a safe haven per Health Care Reform requirements. Retirees and Extension Ministers will be billed the actual premium costTable (4). Participants who are on medical leave through the EPAUMC will be enrolled in the Silver PPO plan at no cost to the participant.
Open Enrollment for your 2017 benefit programs will take place online from November 28 through December 9, 2016. You MUST participate in Open Enrollment in order to have coverage in 2017. No current elections will continue next year unless you choose them when you enroll online. Open enrollment information will be emailed to your primary email address by November 22nd, 2016.
Below is the price structure for churches, clergy and laity participants. Further information will be sent with open enrollment mailings and budget updates.