The Board of Pensions releases rates for medical coverage under menu options each summer when employers select benefits for the following year.
Rates for medical coverage under menu options become available each July when congregations and employers begin logging onto Benefits Connect to select benefits to offer during annual enrollment. Rates are specific to the individual congregation or employer, so they can vary greatly from one to the next.
Any projected change in the cost of medical claims for the coming year affects the rates for the offerings under menu options (PPO, EPO, and HDHP). Although the Board of Pensions remains diligent in its efforts to control costs, healthcare costs continue to rise nationally, so increases in claims costs are necessarily built in.
Unlike commercial health insurance carriers, the Board does not build a profit into plan rates. The goal is to be self-sustaining — to price for exactly what will be needed to cover the projected claims while maintaining strong reserves. This approach limits volatility in rates from year to year.
To ensure the fairest pricing possible, the Board factors in regional and demographic data when setting rates for the medical offerings under menu options. As a result, in any given year, rate increases for some will be higher than for others.
Regional factors are applied based on the specific location of a congregation or an employer. Because the cost of medical care varies greatly throughout the country, as with most goods and services, this results in rate adjustments.
Demographic factors may also affect the coverage rates of a congregation or an employer. Where applicable, these factors reflect shifts in the average age of a congregation's or employer's plan members.
Finally, transitional pricing may come into play. For congregations and employers who transitioned employees from the former Traditional Program of the Benefits Plan to menu options in 2017, transitional pricing support is still in place for some employees who elect spousal or family coverage. This support is being reduced incrementally over three years, through 2019, contributing to any annual rate increases for those coverage levels.