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Monday, June 8, 2009

Churchwide Medical Plan

The Church Insurance Corp. was challenged to find relief for the high costs of providing medical insurance for clergy and congregational employees. At this General Convention, we will review a plan that addresses this most pressing problem.

One aspect is that it will be a compulsory program. Some dioceses currently use other agencies than the Church Medical Trust to purchase health insurance. This would not be allowed in the future. In some dioceses, the congregation can purchase insurance for clergy from the Medical Trust, and use other vendors for lay employees. This will not be allowed if the new program is passed.

Lay employees who work a certain number of hours (the final number is yet to be determined, but the current recommendation is 1500 hours per year) must be a part of this program.

Costs are driving this decision. Congregations and dioceses want to cut health care costs for employees. By making this a national program the pool is enlarged which spreads the liability and thus lowers these costs.

There will still be choices in plans within the new program -- so there is flexibility within the program. Dioceses and congregations will be able to make choices.

If this passes the General Convention it will still take some time to implement, but it should begin showing changes by 2010.

The proposed program would have the following characteristics:

1. Mandatory participation of all domestic dioceses (including Puerto Rico), congregations and official agencies of The Episcopal Church
2. Funded health care benefits for clergy and lay employees regularly scheduled to work at least 1,500 hours per year
3. Employees may waive coverage in the denominational health plan when coverage is available through another approved source
4. Centralized and simplified administration through the Episcopal Church Medical Trust
5. Local control and choice for each diocese and participating group

* Local diocese or group will determine employee cost-sharing requirements for eligible clergy and lay employees.
* Cost-sharing requirements will be the same for eligible clergy and lay employees.
* Local diocese or group will annually select health care plans for their congregations and employees.
* Local diocese will determine participation requirements for schools, day care facilities and other diocesan institutions.

6. Access for all employees to purchase health care benefits through a participating employer

Click on the title of this blog to be directed to more information at the Church Pension Group web page.

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