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Deacons, lay employees to see insurance increase

Deacons, lay employees to see insurance increase
Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Eligible appointed clergy and conference staff will not

By Jessica Brodie

Deacons and lay employees outside the conference office will see an increase in their premium costs for insurance in 2019.

That’s the word from the Rev. Christopher Lollis, director of the South Carolina Conference Pensions and Benefits Office.

Lollis said that while it was reported at Annual Conference and in the Advocate that because of strong investment earnings, clergy and laity covered by conference health insurance plans would see no increase in costs even though premium costs would rise, that was not fully correct.

Lollis said a 7.8 percent increase in insurance premiums will be subsidized by investment earnings for eligible appointed clergy—including local pastors, provisional elders, and elders in full connection who are appointed at three-quarter time and above—as well as lay employees of the conference center. They will not see an increase in cost.

However, for those who have adopted conference health insurance for other staff—such as deacons and church lay employees—insurance premiums will be billed to the local church or plan sponsor for the entire amount, without subsidy. These include provisional deacons employed three- quarter time and above; deacons in full connection employed three-quarter time and above; diaconal ministers employed full-time; and lay employees of local churches employed full-time.

“We just want to clarify and make sure we are transparent,” Lollis said. “The clarification was brought about from an inquiry from a local church, and we want to be sure we provide the most accurate information and make sure folks understand the cost of health care.”

Lollis said that the 7.8 percent increase for deacons and lay employees will vary depending on the type of coverage a person has selected. For those selecting individual coverage, the increase is not as much, while for those selecting family coverage, it can be upwards of $200/month or more.

Lollis said churches and individuals with questions are welcome to contact him at 803-602-0710 or cmlollis@umcsc.org.

 

Letter clarifying insurance increase:

The Office of Pension and Health Benefits would like to clarify a portion of the report that was presented during the 2018 South Carolina Annual Conference and reported by the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate. It was reported that due to strong investment earnings, clergy and laity covered by the South Carolina Conference health insurance plans would see no increase in costs even though premium costs would rise.

The 7.8 percent increase in insurance premiums will be subsidized by investment earnings for eligible appointed clergy. Clergy who fall in this category are local pastors, provisional elders, and elders in full connection who are appointed at three-quarter time and above. The investment earnings subsidy allows for costs to pastors for 2019 to remain close to 2018 levels. There are slight changes depending on the tier and plan selected. The health benefit fee billed to churches for each eligible appointed clergy remains unchanged at $966 per month or $11,592 annually. The health benefit fee and the premium billed for the pastor (cost sharing) is set by the Board of Pensions and Health and voted on at Annual Conference.

For those who have adopted the conference health insurance for other staff, insurance premiums will be billed to the local church or plan sponsor for the entire amount, without subsidy, for the following persons: persons with negotiated service, compensation and benefits; provisional deacons employed three- quarter time and above; deacons in full connection employed three-quarter time and above; diaconal ministers employed full-time; and lay employees of local churches employed full-time.

Investment earnings subsidies do not apply since the cost sharing between the participant and the church (or plan sponsor) is determined by the church (or plan sponsor.)

The Office of Pensions and Health Benefits regrets the misinformation that was disseminated during the reporting during the 2018 Annual Conference. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached at 803-602-0710 or via email at cmlollis@umcsc.org.

—Rev. Christopher M. Lollis,
Director, Conference Pensions & Benefits

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