Thursday, September 2, 2010

Health Care Costs Frustration


It is that time of year again. The end is near, of summer and possibly other things. September 1st was yesterday and also the day that the conference announced the cost of health coverage for 2011. I have discussed, ranted, and complained about this before. It seems to be a yearly thing and about this same time of year when we are shocked that once again our insurance is going up. For 2010 the cost to cover my family is $925 a month. In 2011 we get the esteemed honor of paying $1020 a month, then plus 1% of mine which the church pays 99% of.

Four freakin' digits a month...

Now after my last rant some people told me to check out other plans and for the first two months of the year my family was on separate plans. We saved about $300 a month doing this BUT I could not deduct this cost and it moved me into another tax bracket. Since UM Ministers are self-employed employees (we pay self-employed tax) it would mean I would owe the government more money than we were saving. We dropped their coverage and added them back on the conference plan. (See picture above for my personal feelings)

I emailed the heads of our conference about this issue and got this response. “The only explanation that I have concerning the increase is the rising cost of medical coverage. Primary PhysicianCare has projected for 2011 that the conference health and dental benefit plans could expect $12,356,122 in claims. ($11,840,440 – medical and $515,682 –dental) This is active clergy and retirees under 65 only, no retirees over 65 factor into this equation. (Retirees under 65 pay 100% of the health benefit cost.) The utilization is expected to remain even, so the 10.3% increase in our cost is purely medical trend.”

I then emailed back and asked about the coverage through the denomination. From my research there are 26ish conferences that are covered as a group and not seen as self insured group. Apparently the Western North Carolina Conference has thought about going this route and has interviewed with HealthFlex (the company that does the insuring) but the Conference Health and Pension Committee doesn’t think it would save us any money.

I don’t know what the answer is and that is frustrating too. My wife doesn’t work full time. She teaches Massage Therapy at a community college but they aren’t hiring any more full time people there. Plus the town we live in can supply enough clients for her to move 100% to a private practice. In addition we like the time we can spend with our two young children. We don’t have to put them in childcare (which can be worse than healthcare) with our current work schedule. But when 1/3rd of my monthly paycheck goes to the conference for healthcare…the space between a rock and a hard place gets that much smaller.

4 comments:

Michael Reaves said...

I am a little confused by how much you pay out of pocket. In the Virginia Conference, we pay $232/mo for the Anthem PPO family plan (the HMO is $452/mo). Major Dental is $102/mo for family coverage. Each church is apportioned an amount that goes into the insurance pool.

So are you paying $1,000/month out of pocket?

Jim said...

Yes, I will be paying $1020 a month out of pocket to cover my family under the conference health/dental plan. I will be paying $9.65 a month for mine (which I understand and I am fine with).

Like I said, 1/3rd of my paycheck!

Every church in our conference will be paying $965 a month to cover the insurance for each pastor.

I know that other conference pay half what we pay or like yours a quarter. It is very disheartening but that is what we get for being self-employed employees I guess.

Jim said...

Is your conference under "HealthFlex" through the denomination? Alaska is one of the conferences in that. Our church is paying more than yours. We have lower out of pocket. It probably reflects in a difference in salary -- with ours being lower as the church pays more per month. We only have 28 churches up here and need to spread our insurance costs among many more conferences to buffer against problems.

Michael Reaves said...

Sorry about the late response.

If you go to the Virginia Conference website and click on Administrative Services, then click on Pensions and Benefits,you can see our plan. It is through Anthem-Blue Cross/Blue Shield. We have through health coverage options (HMO, PPO, Managed Care). Our churches no longer pay a flat rate. They are apportioned just like all other conference budget needs. In 2011, my church (100 avg attendance) will pay $9.980/year for active clergy health benefits.