Bethany Service Announces Medical Rates for 2010

Post a Comment » Written on October 8th, 2009     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (October 8, 2009) –Bethany Benefit Service medical premiums next year will increase five percent – likely below the level of rate increases for most other employee medical plans for 2010. All other insurance rates and co-pays remain unchanged.

“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 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.”

The lower rate of increase was made possible in large measure due to negotiated cost reductions from vendors and administrator discounts, Johnson notes. “We accomplished this through our participation in the Church Alliance and Church Benefits Association, which covers some 250,000 lives representing a number of other denominations.” Also contributing to the lower level of increase is a favorable claims experience and lower prescription drug claim costs.

ChartSince 2002, the Bethany plan has experienced much lower medical rate increases than the average medical plan, Johnson observes, resulting in savings for local Covenant churches that in the aggregate total more than $5 million annually. The accompanying chart shows that over the past eight years, Bethany rates increased 43 percent, while marketplace rates more than doubled – up some 120 percent – during the same eight years.

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 says. Another important component not found in other benefit programs, he adds, is a long-term disability feature that addresses payment of Covenant Pension Plan and Bethany premiums.

“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 Bethany Benefit Service 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, 2010.

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.

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