Bethany Services Announces Rate Adjustment

Post a Comment » Written on September 17th, 2008     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (September 17, 2008) –Bethany Benefit Service premiums next year will increase five percent – a level substantially lower than the double-digit premium increases announced by other employee plans.

“We recognize that any rate increase is a significant challenge for both churches and individuals, but it is unavoidable given the continued escalation in medical costs,” says Elliott Johnson, director of finance for the Evangelical Covenant Church. “We are pleased that we have been able to hold the Bethany increase to only five percent.”

Chart - gifThe lower rate of increase was made possible in large measure due to better-than-expected claim results, as well as a strong overall 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, he adds.

“An important element in our ability to constrain the level of rate increase is the fact that we work in partnership with many other denominations to obtain larger medical provider discounts and achieve lower overall administrative costs,” Johnson notes. He also credits some of the success in holding down rate increases to the use of large, efficient, and well-administered insurance providers.

The economic benefit to local Covenant churches and other ministry areas is perhaps best illustrated in the accompanying chart. While average market rates for insurance coverage have more than doubled over the past seven years, Bethany’s rates during the same period have increased only 37.5 percent.

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 Services on behalf of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

The Bethany Benefit Services rate-setting process involves a detailed review of claims and premiums data, independent rate calculations by a health actuary and an outside consultant, a review by Covenant financial leaders, and respective approvals by the Health Insurance Committee and the full Covenant Board of Pensions and Benefits.

The new rates become effective January 1, 2009.

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 Services.

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