In response to a motion made during the 2017 Annual Conference session which directed the South Georgia Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits (CBOP) to “revisit the subject of family health insurance policies specifically focused on finding options that will lower the premium,” the CBOP Insurance Subcommittee met regularly during the past year to study options to creatively lower insurance costs for clergy and their families.
After thorough research which included a survey of 39 annual conference, the CBOP did not find a new way of lowering costs and expanding coverage to include families.
“We recommend the conference stay under our current plan, offering full coverage to our clergy,” said Dr. Scott Hagan, a member of the Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits and senior pastor of Bonaire United Methodist Church. “We believe this is the best balance between offering benefits to our clergy but also keeping costs down to local churches.”
During their research, 39 annual conferences were surveyed about their provision for health coverage. Of those 39 annual conferences, three offer no health insurance, 23 participate in HealthFlex, and 13 offer plans not designed by Wespath/HealthFlex. The South Georgia Annual Conference uses HealthFlex for clergy health insurance.
According to the survey, South Georgia’s costs fall in the mid-high range for coverage but are not the highest of the 39 studied. Like 14 other conferences, South Georgia offers the full range of HealthFlex plan options from which its clergy may choose.
Two important factors in the cost of insurance are the number and cost of claims and the risk pool. South Georgia, as a smaller conference, has fewer people in its pool to insure which makes costs higher.
“Our committee has spent more time looking closely at the various ways and options to creatively lower costs not just for our clergy, but also their families,” Dr. Hagan said. “We’re trying to communicate, as a committee, what we’ve learned about the cost of health insurance and what drives rates and premiums and what it means to share our rates together. We want to serve as a guide to the entire annual conference; we want to help all of our local churches and our clergy make the best decisions so we can serve God’s kingdom in the best possible ways.”
For more information about the CBOP’s work, including informational videos and white pages that explain insurance, premiums, and more, visit www.sgaumc.org/insurance.