In partnering with the Board of Pensions to offer benefits to its employees, Stillman College found a perfect fit — increased value and flexibility and a shared connection with the Church.
Christian values are at the heart of academic life at Stillman College, a liberal arts institution located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The college — which was authorized by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States in 1875 — draws on its rich Christian history and affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to create a spiritual campus culture for faculty, staff, and students.
So when Stillman was searching for new medical coverage to offer its employees, they found a perfect fit with The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Board's Benefits Plan is rooted in the scripturally based A Theology of Benefits, which describes the Church's values — community nature, compassion, justice, and fair compensation.
"We're a Presbyterian college, and the Board of Pensions plan aligned with our mission and goals," said Dr. Cynthia Warrick, President of Stillman College.
When Dr. Warrick assumed her role as President in 2017, exploring new options for medical coverage became a top priority. "When I first got here, I found out we were in a self-insured arrangement for our medical plan, and that was a concern," said Dr. Warrick. Stillman wanted to mitigate the risks involved with self-insured plans.
"We also wanted to create value for employees who were having difficulty with the costs of the current plan and high premiums," she continued.
Stillman found that the Medical Plan provided by the Board of Pensions was able to offer that value, as well as flexibility. Employers may choose from three coverage options — a preferred provider organization (PPO), an exclusive provider organization (EPO), and a qualified high deductible health plan (HDHP).
Stillman decided to offer both the PPO and EPO options to employees.
"Younger, more entry-level employees were opting out of the previous medical plan because of the price," said Dr. Warrick. "With the Board of Pensions, we are able to offer two price points by offering employees a choice between the PPO and EPO."
The increased value and flexibility of the Medical Plan mean that more employees have medical coverage. Stillman enrolled 81 employees for medical benefits for 2019 — an increase from 66 in the previous medical plan.
"It's affordable. We reduced our costs and reduced costs to employees," said Dr. Warrick. "We're very pleased."
Additionally, Medical Plan features like Call to Health, the Board's well-being program; enhanced preventive care benefits; and a telemedicine option have proven to be great value adds for Stillman.
"I began my career as a health professional, so promoting a healthy environment is a priority for me," said Dr. Warrick, who practiced as a licensed pharmacist before starting her career in higher education. "Preventive care is important to maintain a healthy workforce, and Call to Health challenges are very helpful in stressing the importance of annual checkups and needing to know your numbers," such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, said Dr. Warrick.
After a personal experience with the plan's telemedicine option, Dr. Warrick is spreading the word to others. "A real doctor called me back, asked all the right questions, and called in a prescription — all for a $10 copay. How can you beat that?" she asked.
"These are features our employees had no access to before joining the Medical Plan through the Board of Pensions," Dr. Warrick continued.
Stillman had such a positive experience with the Board of Pensions Medical Plan that the organization began to rethink other benefits coverage as well, and, in January 2019, the college began offering the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a 403(b)(9) church plan administered by Fidelity Investments, to help employees build savings for retirement.
Employees had voiced concerns about their previous financial services provider, a leading provider in the education sector, according to Dr. Warrick. "People were not able to get access to their money, even in emergencies," she explained. With the Retirement Savings Plan, hardship withdrawals and loans are two features that are available to all participants who enroll in the plan, so they can access funds from their account in certain situations.
Likewise, Stillman's previous provider was unable to offer in-person education to participants — something that the Board of Pensions and Fidelity are happy to arrange for employers enrolled in the Retirement Savings Plan. Representatives from both organizations traveled to Tuscaloosa to meet with Stillman employees and educate them about the features of the Retirement Savings Plan.
"For people who haven't had education in and exposure to investing and financial planning, it can be complicated," said Dr. Warrick. "The Board of Pensions and Fidelity were accessible to us, face-to-face. Employees felt comfortable sharing questions, and [the Board and Fidelity] were able to communicate effectively to three generations of employees."
In addition to the quality and value of the benefits themselves, the Board of Pensions has been able to add significant value to Stillman College through its exceptional customer service and commitment.
"The Board of Pensions provides a lot of touches that make it personal," said Dr. Warrick. "The Board reminds me of Stillman — we stand out from competing schools with personal touches and by showing we care."
"When you do that," she continued, "everybody wins."