Brotherhood Health Plan comes to an end

Just as many organizations—for-profit and non-profit alike—struggle with the cost of high health insurance premiums, the Brotherhood Health Plan has also faced this harsh reality over the past few years.

The November 2005 issue of Momentum highlighted this situation, and current Brotherhood Health Plan (BHP) participants were notified in September that at their February 2006 meeting, the Pension Fund Trustees would be making a decision (based on participants’ feedback) regarding the future of the plan. While there were a few pastors who, because of past or ongoing health issues, needed group insurance in order to have coverage at all, the Trustees heard from another 24% (by their exit from the plan), that a group plan was not important.

While it has always been the intention of the Pension Fund Trustees to maintain a group plan for the benefit of pastors with ongoing medical issues, participation has now declined to the point that it is no longer feasible to maintain the plan. Therefore, the Trustees have voted unanimously to terminate the Brotherhood Health Plan (BHP) as of June 30, 2006.

The BHP was initiated in 1978 with a small beginning as a few churches enrolled their pastors in group health coverage. The Report of the Bishops to the 1978 General Conference stated: “We urge all congregations to make this available for their pastors. And in the interest of brotherhood, we urge all pastors to accept the Brotherhood plan.”

The past several years have been difficult ones for the BHP as premium prices have soared and participation by churches has decreased. As of February 2006, only 14% of our U.S. congregations were enrolled in the group plan. Many churches left the BHP to secure alternate coverage on their own. This burdened the group plan with a high percentage of pastors with large and/or looming health needs resulting in even higher premiums for all plan participants. When a last attempt to seek coverage in conjunction with another denomination was denied by Capital Blue Cross, the Trustees were left with only one choice: to terminate the plan.

Arlene Ray, benefits administrator, is available to individuals and church until June 30, 2006, to help answer questions. For Arlene’s contact information or more information on how your congregation will be affected by this change, and the assistance available to you, please visit www.bic-church.org/resources/pastors/insurance.