Thanks to generations of faithful stewardship, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) enjoys the most robust and secure benefits plan in the church world. However, our Benefits Plan has served fewer members every year since it went into effect in 1987. Today, only 70 percent of teaching elders and less than 10 percent of other church workers receive any benefits through the Board of Pensions. Stewardship asks that we do better. Faithfulness demands it.

Our response here at the Board has been to undertake a transformational process to serve more, serve better, and serve the Church. We started the process with a yearlong dialogue that has now included thousands. We engaged diverse voices throughout the Church, and we listened to your needs, hopes, and dreams. Inspired by your vision for the Church and guided by the Holy Scripture, we developed A Theology of Benefits, which reminds us that for all, God wishes shalom, the flourishing of life. The promise, as extended by Jesus, is: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

We heard that promise coming through our conversations with you. You made clear that caring for our church workers is holy work — how we use our money is about economics and theology. You are firmly in favor of the commitment to provide comprehensive benefits to our pastors. At the same time, you are asking for flexibility so that each congregation, each PC(USA)-affiliated employer, might care for its employees based on its resources. The bottom line: Every one of you wants to do the best you can for those who serve the Church.

Board staff took all that we heard and developed a framework for redesigning the Benefits Plan. In late October, we presented that redesigned plan to our Board of Directors for consideration. It has been nearly 300 years since American Presbyterians set up the Fund for Pious Uses to support pastors and their families. Here at the Board, we want to be ready with a benefits plan that will carry our Church into the next 300 years.

So, please, watch this video introduction and read the materials we prepared for our Board of Directors to explain the details of the redesign. We invite you to continue this journey with us.

Shalom,


The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer
President

Welcome to Board Connections, the newsletter for The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This publication highlights recent Board news and important updates and information. We hope you find this newsletter useful, and we welcome your feedback at any time.

Help Discern God’s Call for the Church

The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly has initiated a churchwide conversation on the identity and purpose of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Information gathered is to be used at the 222nd General Assembly (2016) to collectively discern God’s call for the Church. Read Join the Conversation on the Church website for information.

Annual Enrollment Ends November 13

November 13 is the last day of annual enrollment, when employees can choose and change benefits coverage for 2016.

Read Annual Enrollment: Now through November 13 on pensions.org or visit pensions.org/annualenrollment for details.

Retirement Readiness: How Much Do You Know about Social Security?

Learn when you can take full Social Security retirement benefits and other basic facts about Social Security and retirement readiness on pensions.org.

Watch for the Fall Healthcare Mailing

As healthcare costs continue trending up, you’ll want to know what’s covered, who pays for it, and how much your deductible will be before you receive care.

To answer these questions and help you make the best use of your healthcare benefits, the Board sends members a booklet, Your Healthcare Benefits in Brief, along with a Preventive Care Benefits Overview, each November. Watch your mail for this key information about your healthcare benefits, and expect to receive it shortly before Thanksgiving. If you do not receive your mailing by December 1, please call the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) and speak with a service representative.

Planning To Travel Abroad? The Medical Plan Has You Covered

With the holiday season approaching, many of us are busy making travel plans. Whether you’re going over the river and through the woods or crossing an ocean, there’s plenty to think about. For those traveling internationally, a recent New York Times article posed an important question: Does your health insurance plan travel with you?

Active members and eligible family members covered by the Benefits Plan* and retired members of the Medicare Supplement Plan are eligible for assistance through International SOS. International SOS provides medical assistance services, including emergency medical evacuation; 24-hour access to International SOS physicians for emergency and routine medical advice and International SOS alarm centers for medical information, referrals, and emergency assistance; and access to multilingual specialists, who can assist you in communicating with healthcare providers.

Members enrolled in the Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO also have access to the BlueCard Worldwide program. BlueCard Worldwide can be used for medical attention during an international trip, including inpatient and outpatient hospital care and physician services, and for locating recommended hospitals and physicians.

You can learn more about both these benefits on pensions.org.

As you plan your trip abroad, review the Medical Assistance during International Travel Benefits Overview and contact the Board of Pensions if you have any questions about your international coverage.

* If you are enrolled in Anthem Blue Preferred HMO, Triple-S, or Cigna Global Health Benefits, you should contact your plan for information about covered services while traveling internationally.

The EAP Can Help You ‘Feel the Joy’ This Holiday Season

We look forward to the holiday season as a time of joyful communion with others, but for many it’s also laden with stress. During the upcoming holidays, and throughout the year, remember that the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential resource included with your healthcare benefits at no cost to you.

The EAP can help with a variety of personal concerns, from handling holiday stress to dealing with disasters and other traumatic events. The program offers phone and in-person support, personalized assistance, and referrals to licensed counselors and professional resources in your community. It includes up to six face-to-face counseling sessions per issue, immediate assistance with critical emotional needs, and a live chat feature on the website for communicating with an advocate or a credentialed counselor, as needed.

Active members enrolled in Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO or Anthem Blue Preferred HMO are eligible for the EAP, as are eligible family members (regardless of residence) and any person living in an active member’s household. The EAP is not available to those enrolled in the Medicare Supplement Plan.

To learn more about the EAP, including how to access it and the other services the EAP provides, visit pensions.org.

Keep On Answering the Call to Health!

Congratulations to those who completed Call to Health by September 30, 2015, which again saw a nearly 50 percent completion rate! Members who answered the Call are enjoying the peace of mind that comes from caring for their own health. They also earned lower medical deductibles in 2016 for themselves and their eligible family members.*

A new year of Call to Health runs October 1, 2015, through September 30, 2016. This year, Call to Health includes a new website, calltohealth.org, which launches January 5 with information, resources, and new opportunities for health and well-being for members with Highmark or Anthem coverage. During the transition to the new website, please make and keep your doctor and dentist appointments. You’ll be able to record the actions you complete after October 1 when the website launches January 5.

Watch your mail in the next few months for more information. In the meantime, continue to nurture your health and well-being, and, remember, we are all encouraged to answer the Call!

* Call to Health is not available to members enrolled in Triple-S, Cigna Global Health Benefits, or the Medicare Supplement Plan.

This Board Bulletin reports actions taken at the fall 2015 meeting of the Board of Directors, October 29-31, that affect plans and programs administered by the Board.

The Reverend Dr. William B. Carr’s resistance to — and eventual embrace of — the retired life is as universal as it is unique. Be prepared to leave aside any misconceptions you may have about retirement as you hear from Bill and his wife, Jan, in the video Living ‘Life Abundant’ in Retirement.

Seminars

Find upcoming seminars and locations

Members Can Apply Online for Optional Dental and Supplemental Death Coverage!

Mark your calendars: October 1 through November 13 is the annual enrollment period for the optional Dental and Supplemental Death Benefits plans. Members who are eligible for the plans can apply online through Benefits Connect, the Board’s secure benefits website, during the annual enrollment period. To register for Benefits Connect, follow the simple steps outlined on the site.

Note to employers: When your members apply online, you will receive a letter from the Board of Pensions indicating which members applied for the programs. These letters are generated daily.

If you are not already taking advantage of Benefits Connect, register today!

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If you have comments or feedback on this newsletter, please let us know at communications@pensions.org.

If you have questions, call the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) and speak with a member service representative.

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