Conference health insurance plan will see changes in 2009

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Conference health insurance plan will see changes in 2009

Oct. 21, 2008     News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011    Orlando {0928}

An e-Review Feature
By Erik J. Alsgaard**

LAKELAND — There will be several significant changes to the Florida Conference’s medical plan in 2009, with some participants paying less for their premiums and others seeing an increase.

Premiums for participants in the retiree category will decrease by either 13 or 29 percent, depending on which of two new plans retirees choose. Active clergy and non-clergy participants will see their contribution rates rise, with clergy paying 28 percent more per month than in 2008.

Clergy will pay 20 percent of their overall premium, with single clergy paying $96 a month and clergy with two or more family members paying $236 per month. Churches or other entities will pay the remaining 80 percent or $839 per month, under what’s known as the “blended rate” for clergy serving local churches.

In 2005, a formula for clergy and churches to share in the cost of clergy insurance was created, as well as a five-year plan to gradually increase the cost sharing between clergy and local churches. It was determined that clergy would pay 15 percent of the premium costs at the beginning of the plan up to a maximum of 20 percent in 2009 and beyond.

The are many reasons for the changes in rates for 2009, according to Wendy McCoy, the Florida Conference’s pension and health benefits officer.

Last fall, the Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits authorized using reserve funds to subsidize premium rates and participant contributions for 2008, McCoy said, increasing the premium for this year by only about 7 percent. In 2009, that subsidy is not available, which means the personal contribution for clergy must rise in order to reach the cost-sharing goal. And because the conference has had a good year in terms of medical insurance claims, McCoy said, the board felt it was time to “catch up” on the premium subsidies in 2008, which artificially reduced both premiums and participant contributions.
“Even so, 2008 has proven to be a very good year for us, and the actual overall plan rate increase for 2009 is only 3 percent,” McCoy said.

The 2009 benefit plan continues to provide a comprehensive, quality medical insurance plan for participants and their families, McCoy added. “There will be no disruption of network providers, and the plan will maintain many co-pays for doctor’s visits and out-of-pocket maximums, which will limit overall financial exposure,” she said.

The conference pension and health benefits board determines the health insurance plan provided to conference participants. It authorized the use of reserve funds to subsidize 2008’s health insurance premiums, which brought the premium increase for 2008 to below national trend levels. McCoy said premiums would have increased 38 percent for active participants and 54 percent for retirees if the board had not used the reserve funds and only made specific plan changes. The impact on clergy, lay participants and local churches for 2008 “would have been catastrophic,” she said.

The Florida Conference will hold a webcast Nov. 6 at 10 a.m. to help participants learn about the changes and ways in which the board has worked to keep the premium increase to a minimum. Participants may view the webcast by visiting the day of the webcast and clicking on the appropriate button.

The 2009 health insurance premium rates are available online at


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is director of communications for the Florida Conference.

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