Bethany Benefits Introduces Tiered Health Insurance Plan

CHICAGO (September 18, 2020) — Bethany Benefit Service will introduce a new health insurance tier system in 2021 that will give families more coverage options.

The tier system will allow participants to add just a spouse or just children to their plan, said Christina Kempe, benefits administrator. “We worked hard to adjust our rating structure to accommodate a request we have heard from so many of our churches. We hope this update will allow more churches to find a home in the ECC-sponsored benefits program,” she said.

The tier system will enable some families to reduce their costs. Previously, everyone paid the same family rate.

The change is one of several for the coming year.

Rates will increase 5 percent for 2021. Kempe said Bethany Benefits recognizes the increase may be difficult for some participants due to the COVID-19 crisis. To help those organizations, the ECC Finance Committee of the Executive Board approved President John Wenrich’s proposal to expand the ECC Financial Relief Initiative to provide $250,000 in funds to cover the incremental cost of the 2021 premium increase for churches, camps, and other ECC affiliates who are experiencing COVID-19 related financial distress. For organizations that wish to apply for this assistance, a brief application form will be included in invoice mailings this fall.

For the first time, institutions entering the plan will need to enroll at least 75 percent of eligible staff and employees. Those already in the plan will be grandfathered for two years to allow for planning and transition.

Kempe said that change was made because some churches purchase coverage for only high-risk employees, which increases overall costs across the plan.

Changes also include a small increase in deductibles. The plan has not raised deductibles in the past 12 years, Kempe said. Out-of-pocket costs will increase no more than $250 per family for the year.

This will be the last year that retirees who have left the plan will be allowed to rejoin. “It is abnormal for an employer-sponsored health plan and a risk to the financial health of the plan to allow retirees to cancel coverage and re-enroll later in life. We provide a superb benefits package to our retirees and want to continue to be able to care for them in this way, but we will not be able to do that if we don’t require enrollment in earlier years of retirement in order to have access to it in later years of life,” Kempe said. All eligible retirees will be notified of this change and 2021 rates by mail soon.

Bethany Benefits continually adds plan enhancements to better care for members and make healthcare easier to navigate. Recently, these enhancements include but are not limited to:

  • Wellness program with up to $300 cash rewards
  • Dermatology specialists easily accessible through Teladoc
  • 98point6 program, which gives users text-based 24/7 access to a physician for all members enrolled in any benefits plan as well as dependents in the United States over the age of one
  • Enhanced diabetes support: Lower insulin copays and free glucometer and test strips with remote monitoring through Livongo

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, Bethany Benefits also added a mental healthcare access to its Teladoc program. The program is also covering all in-network virtual health visits and COVID-19 testing and treatment at 100 percent through at least December 31, 2020.

The Bethany Benefit Service plan provides a comprehensive variety of high-quality services, which include low-deductible Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO, prescriptions, dental, and vision care. If an employee has health coverage through another employer plan, such as their spouse’s employer, they can still enroll in life, long-term disability, dental, and vision benefits.

The Bethany program provides coverage for pastors and staff of local Covenant churches, regional conferences, camps, Covenant Offices, global personnel, and other affiliates, as well as Covenant pastors who have been approved by Ordered Ministry to serve in a non-Covenant ministry.

All eligible employers will receive a rate update package in the mail shortly. Churches or individuals interested in learning more about participation in the Bethany Benefits program may call Bethany Benefits personnel at (800) 313-8955, or email bethany@covchurch.org. Information also is available by visiting Bethany Benefit Service online.

 

 

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Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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