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Conference board takes next step in reviewing insurance program

Conference board takes next step in reviewing insurance program

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Conference board takes next step in reviewing insurance program

May 20, 2005    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
800-282-8011     Orlando  {0295}

An e-Review Feature
By Tita Parham

ORLANDO — The Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits (CBPHB) is one step closer to finding the best health insurance package for the conference at the best price in a process that began late last year.

The board heard presentations May 4 from three companies that would like to obtain the conference's insurance business next year.

For nearly 11 years the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits has administered the Florida Conference's health insurance program through its Healthflex department. In that role the General Board has worked directly with the conference's health insurance providers on the conference's behalf. The work is done for a fee, which is included in the premiums paid by participants of the conference's program.

Last January, as part of its regular responsibilities to review the conference's plan and ensure the best options possible are being provided, the conference insurance board began the process of obtaining proposals from companies.

"At previous annual conferences, the question is always posed, 'Isn't there a cheaper plan that can still give good benefits?' The board could not answer that question without testing the waters, so to speak," said Barbara Pearce, vice chairwoman of the conference board. "We undertook the task of initiating a Request for Proposal (RFP) to measure what we had against what was available."

Pearce said the General Board provides a valuable service for smaller and mid-sized conferences that aren't able to obtain insurance on their own. "Larger conferences, such as the Florida Conference, may have other options available to them, and we're just exploring those other options," Pearce said. "For the first time in a very long time, the Florida Conference finds itself in the enviable position of having carriers seek our business."

The Florida Conference is one of the largest groups being administered by the General Board, with an estimated 1,100 clergy and laity employed at local United Methodist churches and the conference office in Lakeland participating in the Healthflex insurance program.

The companies that made presentations in early May included the General Board, as the incumbent, and two insurance providers. They were among six that responded to the conference's RFP. The conference board is still in the process of negotiating with the three finalists - working out the details related to plan design and options and giving the companies time to respond.

Pearce said the board's goal is to provide the best possible benefits for the conference's clergy and laity. "We are trying to do a good job for them — to protect their benefits — in honor of their sacrifice."

At the "One Body One Spirit" 2005 Florida Annual Conference Event, the conference board will make a report to delegates and ask them to allow the board to choose the best plan possible, based on benefits and price.

"This will allow us to conclude the RFP process, award the contract and move forward with renewal for next year," Pearce said, adding, "I am very excited about the potential for cost savings to participants, local churches and the conference."

If that endorsement is given, the conference board will work through the summer to finalize details and make preparations for a renewal in 2006. If the board chooses one of the two insurance carriers, instead of remaining with the General Board, there would be no need for a separate administrator. The conference would work directly with that insurance carrier, which would assume the role of administrator.

"We will announce the outcome at the earliest possible time because we understand this is a very important issue for each and every covered participant," Pearce said.

The report from the conference board is included in the annual conference event workbook on pages 83-92. It includes items relating to pension, health insurance and the Preachers Relief board, all of which fall under the responsibilities of the conference board. The workbook can be found on the Florida Conference Web site at


This article relates to the 2005 Florida Annual Conference Event.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.