Spread your protection over them …

Ps 5:11

In 2015-2016, the Board entered a transformational process. We stopped managing for decline and started envisioning ways we could serve more, serve better, and serve the Church. We redesigned the Benefits Plan for 2017.

Plan membership grew with the redesign. It’s still growing, and we’ve introduced changes to the plan for 2019 to help us serve even more people. The boldest of these is a new Medical Plan option — a high deductible health plan (HDHP).

As congregations and employers are selecting benefits to offer in menu options for 2019, they should take a careful look at the HDHP. It’s not for everyone. But it is a choice that is more affordable than either of our current options.

HDHPs were designed as a response to rising healthcare costs in our country. The premiums are lower, so they’re more affordable to employers, but the deductibles are high. The federal government requires that, except for preventive care, the member pays all charges for medical care until the deductible is met.

The individual deductible is $3,000; the family deductible is $6,000. That’s steep, and a reason to offer a health savings account (HSA). We’re urging congregations and employers to deposit in the HSA some of what they would have spent on a higher-cost option. Employees will also need to invest in their HSAs. Contributions are tax-free to the employee, and withdrawals for healthcare expenses are tax-free. Balances roll over, year to year, even into retirement; members won’t lose what they don’t spend.

We developed this offering for menu options based on feedback from you — churches, employers, members — and on our own research into market trends and best practices. We believe it’s the best HDHP plan on the market, a blend of affordability and the unique qualities of our church Benefits Plan.

In addition to paying 100 percent for in-network preventive care services, the Board’s new high deductible option requires only a modest copay for numerous preventive drugs.

Other unique features include participation in Call to Health to lower deductibles, and the same preventive care benefits as all of our other medical options. Members have access to the largest provider network in the country. The Employee Assistance Program is included, covering up to six counseling sessions a year, per issue, per person, at no member cost, plus other family assistance.

So, call us if you have questions about how the HDHP and the HSA work. They’re an option to help congregations and employers offer medical coverage to those who might otherwise have none. Every employee deserves protection from a healthcare catastrophe.

Grace and peace,

The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer

Welcome to Board Connections, a newsletter from 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 encourage you to share this information with those who can benefit from it. If you have any feedback or would like to subscribe to this newsletter, please let us know.

Board of Pensions named one of the 2018 Best Places to Work

The Board of Pensions proudly announces that it has been named among the 2018 Best Places to Work by the Philadelphia Business Journal. The Board is one of 77 employers in the region, including the surrounding Pennsylvania and New Jersey suburbs, to be recognized, and among 23 employers honored in the category for large companies (100-499 employees). Selection is based on employee response to a survey that measures satisfaction in such areas as work environment, personal growth, and the embracing of change and new ideas.

April Eutsey, Director, Employee Development & Engagement, and
Susan Reimann, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer

A conversation on encouraging new calls

Board of Pensions programs designed to encourage new calls for ministers was a topic of conversation between the Reverend Dr. Lee Hinson-Hasty, Senior Director of Theological Education Funds Development for the Presbyterian Foundation, and the Reverend Frank Clark Spencer, President of the Board of Pensions. Watch the video of their exchange.

Grants available for first-year college student expenses

Transition-to-College Assistance Grants are one-time grants, ranging from $500 to $1,000, for eligible Medical Plan members whose dependent children are entering college. This grant is intended to help offset the cost of transitional expenses — such as the purchase of a computer or dorm room furnishings — incurred by families of first-year college students.

Eligibility is based on financial need, Medical Plan participation, and enrollment of a dependent child, also covered under the Medical Plan, as a full-time first-year college student in an accredited college or university in the 2018-2019 academic year.

Grant applications for the 2018-2019 academic year will be accepted through June 30, 2019. To apply, complete the Transition-to-College Assistance Grant Application and return it to the Board at the address listed on the form.

Are vaccinations on your back-to-school checklist?

Did you know that most urgent care centers and walk-in clinics provide immunizations? If a child needs certain vaccines before school starts — and you’re out of time to make an appointment with your pediatrician — consider these convenient alternatives.

The good news is that vaccinations recommended in the 2018 Preventive Schedule are 100 percent covered when you use network providers, for adults as well as children. Remember to record preventive visits at Call to Health to earn points.

Seminary student healthcare enrollment is open

Enrollment is open for seminary students to receive comprehensive healthcare coverage through the Board of Pensions. Now through September 15, 2018, inquirers and candidates for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) can elect healthcare coverage from either the preferred provider organization (PPO) option or the exclusive provider organization (EPO) option — both in the national Blue Cross Blue Shield network, the largest in the United States.

The cost of seminarian healthcare coverage will not increase this year, holding steady with the significantly reduced cost the Board of Directors approved last year. Read more about eligibility and costs.

Give your finances a checkup

Do monthly expenses make it almost impossible for you to think about saving for retirement? Consider spending five minutes to see what you’re doing right with your money and what needs work. A financial checkup can help get you on track, with a personal action plan for improved financial well-being.

If you’re not already contributing to the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (RSP), start saving — and planning — for retirement today. And if you’re already saving, try increasing your contributions by 1 percent each year. Small changes today can make a big difference when it’s time to retire.

If the RSP is not available to you, ask your employer to contact the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) to learn how all employees can contribute and take charge of their financial well-being.

Time is running out to answer the call

Only three months left to answer the Call to Health by the November 16 deadline:

  • Call to Health challenges help members* grow in all areas of well-being — spiritual, health, financial, and vocational — on the journey toward wholeness.
  • Medical deductibles for 2019 will be reduced — by as much as one-third — for members who reach 1,000 points (including required challenges).
  • Members who earn 2,000 points, and covered spouses who reach 1,000 points, each receive a $100 Amazon gift card.

Making music — and answering the call — together

Megan Sharp and her husband, Jonathan, produce inspirational music for Westminster Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, Virginia. As Westminster’s Director of Fine Arts, Megan leads several choral ensembles, and Jonathan serves as the church organist. They also work together, and separately, on Call to Health.

“We compare blood work numbers, encourage each other to do random acts of kindness — even bike to work, which fulfills the weekly exercise challenge,” Megan said. But she goes solo for certain challenges, because her answers to the Well-Being Assessment determine content presented to Megan when she logs on to Call to Health, suggesting activities that will benefit her most. Read more.

*Call to Health is available to members and their spouses enrolled in the active Medical Plan (the Highmark PPO or EPO); it is not available to members enrolled in Triple-S, GeoBlue, or the Medicare Supplement Plan.

Check Benefits Connect for your Employer Agreement

Employers and congregations: Log on to Benefits Connect to review, update, and submit Employer Agreements for 2019, due October 12. Take a look at the new options for 2019, including a high deductible health plan (HDHP) and health savings account (HSA), a preventive prescription drug benefit, and vision eyewear coverage. See Selecting 2019 Benefits for details.

If you have questions or need assistance, call the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET,
or email the Board at memberservices@pensions.org.