CHICAGO, IL (April 5, 2011) – A special mid-year enrollment period has been approved that will allow qualified individuals to apply for medical insurance coverage through Bethany Benefit Service, it was announced today.
The special open enrollment period, which is effective immediately, includes all applications received at Covenant Offices by the end of day Wednesday, June 15, with July 1 as the date coverage becomes effective.
A special mailing is going to local Covenant churches, conference and other offices with staff who qualify for membership in the plan, as well as retirees who may qualify for coverage.
This kind of special enrollment window is unusual, notes Elliott Johnson, controller. “Because of large medical rate increases received by many of our local churches that are not now part of the Bethany Benefit Service plan, we decided to create a special mid-year open enrollment period as a way to help them, to provide a more cost-effective option.”
The plan is available to qualified individuals who work at least 20 hours per week, says Christina Kempe, benefits coordinator. Retirees receiving benefits from the Covenant pension plan also are eligible for this special open enrollment. While retirees are eligible for the health coverage portion of the plan, they are not eligible for life or long-term insurance coverages, Johnson adds.
As announced last November, although premium costs for most major medical insurance plans were expected to increase on average 10.2 percent this year (2011), the Bethany Benefit Service plan increased only four percent, Kempe points out.
The Bethany plan provides coverage for medical, dental, vision, and prescriptions as well as life insurance, accidental death and disability and long-term disability.
New features available in 2011 include:
- Orthodontia for all ages – Delta Dental will cover 50 percent of orthodontic treatment with a $1,500 lifetime maximum per person.
- Immunizations that have been covered only if administered in a doctor’s office are now available for a $20 co-pay at any local participating pharmacy.
- Children age 25 and younger became eligible for coverage on January 1.
Long-term disability is one key area to consider, she says, especially the challenge of continuing to pay medical insurance premiums should an individual become disabled and is unable to work. “The Bethany plan will pay the health insurance premiums on behalf of the pastor for up to two years should they encounter a long-term disability need,” Kempe notes.
Another key benefit is payment of Covenant pension contributions as well as the waiving of life insurance premiums on behalf of the pastor for the duration of the long-term disability – another important feature not found in other plans.
The Bethany deductible of $300 is one additional area to consider – it is lower than most other plans that often include higher deductibles as a way to lower premium costs, requiring more up front out-of-pocket expense for the participant.