Bethany Reports Benefit Improvements and Rates

CHICAGO, IL (October 1, 2010) – Bethany Benefit Service medical premiums next year will increase four percent, well under the average nine to 11 percent increases projected for most other employee medical plans for 2011, it was announced today.

All other insurance rates and co-pays remain unchanged, including rates for life insurance, long-term disability, and prescription drug co-pays.

At the same time, several benefit enhancements have been incorporated into the plan, notes Elliott Johnson, controller for the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Enhancements include the addition of orthodontia (both child and adult), addition of a program that allows insured individuals to get immunizations at participating pharmacies at a cost of only $20 (treated as a medical office visit co-pay), and addition of coverage for all children age 25 and younger to their parents coverage (effective January 1). Enrollment of these dependents must be done prior to December 1 this year.

A letter is being sent to all plan participants explaining the program for 2011 in greater detail.

“We recognize that any rate increase is a significant challenge for both churches and individuals, but it is unavoidable given the continued increases in medical care costs,” says Johnson. “We are pleased that we have been able to hold the Bethany increase to only four percent.”

Rates are based on the independent work of a health insurance actuary, an outside consultant, and staff members. Rate projections are then reviewed by the Health Insurance Committee and then approved by the Covenant Board of Pensions and Benefits.

“We are able to keep our medical rate increases lower than most other plans as a result of better-than-expected claim results, low operating costs, and a strong financial position for the plan,” Johnson adds.

Over the past nine years, Bethany rates have increased cumulatively by 49 percent. Marketplace rates during that same period more than doubled, increasing by 131 percent.

The Bethany plan includes medical insurance, dental insurance, a prescription drug benefit, life insurance, long-term disability insurance, and a vision benefit, in addition to the enhancements noted earlier. Many other plans do not incorporate such a comprehensive array of benefits, Johnson says.

“For Covenant pastors enrolled with Bethany, our long-term disability coverage pays premiums into the Covenant Pension Plan until normal Social Security retirement age as long as the pastor continues to be disabled, and pays premiums into Bethany for the first 24 months of a disability that qualifies for long-term disability benefits,” Johnson points out.

The Bethany program provides coverage for pastors, employees of local Covenant churches and regional conferences, conference centers and camps, Covenant pastors who work for voluntary employers of the Covenant Pension Plan, and denominational offices. Medical coverage is available for employees who work at least 20 hours a week.

The program is administered by Bethany Benefit Service on behalf of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

The new rates become effective January 1, 2011.

Churches or individuals interested in learning more about participation in the Bethany program may call Bethany staff members at 800-313-8955. Information also is available by visiting Bethany Benefit Service online.

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