Understanding the United Methodist Health Plan

The health insurance plan of the denomination is called HealthFlex. I think it’s a pretty good plan in that you have good options, it’s “affordable” considering that most on the plan are north of 50 years old, and the pastor’s have skin in the game (they pay a share of the cost). For more info on the plans exactly, check out Leana Stune’s videos linked below. Leana is the Conference Benefits Officer and put these videos together to train in new clergy.

As a cheap accountant, I care more about the cost than the benefit so that’s what I’m going to write about. About three years ago, the Dakotas switched to the HealthFlex Exchange where pastors would get to choose between six different plan options. They could also add on dental and vision at their own expense. The pastors receive a stipend (funded by the church) to shop on the Exchange. The amount of the stipend is 75% of one of the gold plans (C2000 to be specific). This amount isn’t enough to cover the full cost of any of the plans. The pastor is then responsible for the remaining portion which ranges from 2.5% to 28% depending on the plan they choose.

How is it that a church is charged the same amount no matter if they are served by single pastor or a pastor with a family? Each year we make an estimate about how many pastors we think will be on single coverage, 2-party coverage, or family coverage. The premiums for the C2000 vary based on this. Take the number estimated in each category, multiply it by the related premium amount, and multiply this by 75%. We then divide this by the total number of pastors on the health plan to give each church a blended rate. The blended rate makes it easier for appointments so that churches don’t see big swings in health costs if their pastor gets married or adds a child.

Why are some churches billed for HealthFlex even though their pastor has opted out? In 2021, we decided to allow 3/4-time pastors to enroll into HealthFlex. As we have more and more part-time pastors serving our churches, we thought this could help in recruiting and retaining pastors. By allowing 3/4-time pastors to enroll, we then felt it right to give pastors the option to opt out. No more mandatory coverage for full-time pastors. Churches that have a pastor that opts out are billed a much lower rate to help make this flexibility possible.

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