Healthcare Zones Update
In June 2017, the concept of Healthcare Zones was conceived by Pension Fund, essentially taking us back to the regional plans of the 60's and 70's. Our hope was that there would be enough interest from clergy to create region-based zones, where local health insurance networks could be offered by insurers to members at a reasonable price.
During General Assembly, we shared the concept and what was needed to move forward. In an effort to see that these costs would not be passed on to potential insureds, the Healthcare Trust committed the required funds to launch the investigative portion of the process.
By August 15, more than 600 people had expressed interest. By August 31, that number increased to more than 700. However, by September 15, only 340 people completed the underwriting process. Approximately 75 people abandoned the process part way through -- objecting to the amount of information that was required, objecting to sharing private health information, or for other reasons.
On September 26, our staff received the underwriting reports from the insurance broker. Unfortunately, the information confirmed our worst fear and we will not be able to move forward. The rationale for our decision is based on two main points:
- we did not have enough people complete the process to create zones, meaning we would be required to use the one national network option, which is more expensive, and
- based on the medical information obtained during the underwriting process, the premiums would be three times the standard rates. This means if an average person's rate is $1,000, the carrier would charge $3,000 per month.
Unless we move to mandatory participation for every pastor, we cannot foresee ever building enough critical mass to make this work. Because we did not have enough people to create the critical mass needed for reasonable rates and the majority of those who did participate are in the high-risk pool, our members would be better served by community-rated plans.
While this is not what we hoped for, we encourage those seeking health insurance to reach out to Gravie, the company which handled the investigative process, and explore the private and ACA markets available to you. You can visit them online at www.Gravie.com, or call them at (800) 501-2920. We also encourage you to continue contacting your elected representatives to oppose legislation that will remove protections for persons with pre-existing conditions. Pension Fund will continue to work with the Church Alliance to lobby on your behalf with the goal of affordable health insurance for all.
I wish I had better news; please know we will keep searching for a solution.
On behalf of the Healthcare Trust,
Todd A. Adams