CHICAGO, IL (September 27, 2012) – Bethany Benefit Service medical/dental premiums next year will increase five percent, a rate that is less than average increases projected for most other employee medical plans for 2013, it was announced today.
The health insurance and prescription drug co-pays and deductibles remain unchanged. Rates for life insurance and long-term disability likewise remain the same – they have not changed for several years.
“While we recognize that any rate increase is a significant challenge for both churches and individuals, it is necessary to have adequate premiums to cover the continued escalation in health care costs,” notes Elliott Johnson, controller for the Evangelical Covenant Church.
Next year’s Bethany rate mirrors a pattern over the past 10 years of less-than-average rate increases – over that time, Bethany rates have increased 52.3% compared to average marketplace rate increases of 146.6% over the same period. “Not surprisingly, enrollment in the Bethany Benefit Service plan has increased nine percent over the last two years, suggesting that Bethany is meeting the needs of many churches and individuals,” Johnson adds.
A letter is being sent to all plan participants explaining the program for 2013 in greater detail.
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 says.
The Bethany plan includes medical insurance, dental insurance, a prescription drug benefit, life insurance, long-term disability insurance, and a vision benefit. Many other plans do not incorporate such a comprehensive array of benefits, Johnson notes.
“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 for medical/dental coverage 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/dental coverage is only 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, 2013.
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.