LAKELAND -- Higher than expected medical claim expenses in 2011 and 2012 demanded a premium increase for 2013. But the experience so far this year has improved such that the Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits (CBOPHB) is not requiring health insurance premiums to increase in 2014.
“The CBOPHB monitors health plan experience and funding to evaluate whether changes to health insurance premiums are needed. This year the experience has improved and additional funding is not necessary at this time,” said Wendy McCoy, director of human resources and benefits for the Florida Conference.
For 2014, the rates will remain flat across the board for clergy, conference staff members and retirees.
The decision not to increase premiums was recommended by the Conference Health Insurance Subcommittee and approved by the full Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits in August.
Deductibles, prescriptions and doctor visit co-payments will not change, McCoy said. The rate for a single clergy member or conference staff member will remain at $118 per month, and the “blended rate” paid by a local church for its clergy will also remain unchanged at $1,016.
Clergy under full-time episcopal appointment are required to remain enrolled in the mandatory conference health insurance plan for 2014. The conference United Healthcare plan is a “Qualified Health Plan” that meets both the affordability requirement and exceeds the minimum benefits required under the new Affordable Care Act (ACA). Clergy who voluntarily opt out of the conference plan are not eligible for Premium Tax Credits (PTCs) to support the purchase of health insurance through the online Federal Marketplace. However, clergy appointed less than full time are not eligible for the conference plan and may want to investigate obtaining individual coverage through the new Marketplace. Depending on household income, PTCs may be available to subsidize the cost of insurance.
Effective Jan. 1, 2014, local churches and extension ministries will no longer have the opportunity to adopt the conference health insurance plan for lay employees. The conference health insurance program will limit participation to clergy serving full time under episcopal appointment and full time lay employees on the conference staff.
Beginning Oct.1, the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplace will open for individuals and small groups to purchase insurance. Lay employees whose local church is not offering a group health plan will have the opportunity to apply for insurance coverage through the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace established as a part of the ACA. To learn more about the ACA and find resources for local churches that can help them determine how to support lay employees with obtaining health insurance coverage click here.
The ACA requires local churches to distribute a notice to all employees, including clergy, that describes the new Health Insurance Marketplaces and how an employee can contact the Marketplace to purchase coverage. Employers must provide this notice to all employees no later than Oct. 1, 2013. See the Human Resources website for instructions and templates to complete the Affordable Care Act Notice Requirements.
Open Enrollment for conference health plan participants will begin on Nov. 4 and close on Nov. 12, 2013. Plan participants should review their benefit elections to determine if any changes are needed. Participants with Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) must make a new election each year. Those elections must be made during the Open Enrollment window to have a FSA for 2014.