… the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. (Isa 7:14)

Happy New Year!

The Church’s new year has begun with the start of Advent. We have all turned back to the front of our hymnals and the liturgical colors have shifted. We wait for the Lord with anticipation of new life.

It is a new year for the Board of Pensions as well. One hundred percent of our congregations and other employers have new benefits agreements. All of the employees have completed annual enrollment, and Medical Plan ID cards will be mailed before year-end.

We have been planning for this new season for two years and deeply appreciate all of the input that we have received from all corners of the Church. The 2017 Benefits Plan reflects that input with new features and still preserves important values which we will never abandon.

We have maintained our covenant with our ministers, upheld the community nature of the plan, and provided flexibility for employers and employees alike. We have provided transparency in pricing so that everything is easier to understand and compare to commercial alternatives.

The turmoil that we have seen in the government exchanges and the uncertainty around the future of the Affordable Care Act make our commitment to providing health coverage all the more important. We are pleased that we have been able to bring forward the 2017 plan without an increase in dues. Caring for each other is essential to our commitment as a connectional church.

As we look forward in this season of anticipation, we know that all things are possible through God. We are living into the incarnational hope that the Board of Pensions will indeed

Serve More,

     Serve Better, and

          Serve the Church.

Grace and peace,


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.

Important Benefits Connect Update:
Member Enrollment and Salary Changes

As the Board continues to enhance Benefits Connect, employers will soon be able to complete some requests entirely online. In the meantime, employers — and members — will continue to use paper forms for some requests.

Member Enrollment

As we put the finishing touches on online member enrollment, employers should continue to use the paper Benefits Plan Membership Application (ENR-001) to enroll new members through the end of 2016 for benefits for 2016 and 2017. When the member enrollment process is completely online through Benefits Connect (in January — exact date to be announced), you will no longer need to use the paper application.

Salary Changes

Employers will be able to submit salary changes online through Benefits Connect in January (exact date to be announced). As employers prepare salary updates through the end of the year, we ask that you not submit salary changes using the paper form. In January, employers will be able to change and confirm salary information quickly, easily, and conveniently through Benefits Connect. Watch your email and look for more information in the January issue of Board Connections.

If you have any questions about salary changes or enrolling new members, call the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN).

Highmark ID Cards Coming Soon

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield will mail new ID cards to all members enrolled in the Medical Plan later this month. With mail volume heavier than normal during the holidays, please keep an eye out for your ID card. If you have not received your new ID card by December 31, 2016, please contact Highmark Member Services directly at 888-835-2959.

RSP: A Critical Part of Retirement Planning

Although the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (RSP) has long been an optional benefit in the Benefits Plan, in coming months you will see an increased focus on the importance of the RSP in overall retirement planning. In addition to a new fossil fuel-free investment option and three new plan features, beginning in the new year employers will be required to offer the RSP to those in Pastor’s Participation. The Board encourages employers to offer RSP participation to all employees, especially those not eligible, or no longer eligible, for the Pension Plan. All employees who work as a W-2 employee for a PC(USA) employer may join the RSP, regardless of the number of hours worked. For more information, read the article Retirement Savings Plan: Better than Ever in 2017 on pensions.org.

Call to Health Holiday Challenges, and More

Call to Health can help you commit to — and improve — your health and well-being, especially during the busy holiday season.

At calltohealth.org, members of the active Medical Plan and their covered spouses* can enjoy seasonal challenges, such as Create Meaningful Holiday Memories, Do Someone a Favor, and Holiday Hustle, that promote spiritual, health, financial, and vocational well-being. Participate in these challenges to boost your well-being and receive points toward completing Call to Health.

Keep in mind …

  • Members who answer the Call to Health (1,000 points) earn lower 2018 medical deductibles.
  • Members who embrace the Call to Health (2,000 points) earn a $100 Amazon gift card.
  • Covered spouses who earn 1,000 points receive a $100 Amazon gift card.

See Answer the Call to Health for details, and check calltohealth.org often for new challenges. Be your best self this holiday season!

*Call to Health is available to members with medical coverage through the Highmark PPO and EPO (and the Anthem HMO through 2016). Call to Health is not available to members enrolled in Triple-S, Cigna Global Health Benefits (GeoBlue, effective January 1, 2017), or the Medicare Supplement Plan.

For Some, a Difficult Time of Year

Although typically a joyful time of year, the holidays can accentuate feelings of loss, depression, or loneliness in some people.

Don’t ignore those feelings. If you are covered by the Medical Plan, you and every member of your household (even those not enrolled in the plan) have access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through Cigna. Benefits include up to six face-to-face counseling sessions per issue with an EAP counselor at no cost to the member, financial advice services, legal assistance, and other programs that can help you to achieve or maintain a healthy balance, especially during difficult times.

All services are private and confidential. The EAP is available 24/7 at 866-640-2772. Members seeking in-depth treatment will be referred to Highmark.

Information about the EAP is available at cignabehavioral.com.

You don’t need to tough it out alone this December. Remember the EAP.

Highlighted E-Learning

To learn about the 2017 challenges and how to navigate calltohealth.org, view the updated web module Answering the Call to Health.

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