In October 2015, the Board of Pensions presented a proposed redesign of the Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (USA) as part of a transformational process to serve more, serve better, and serve the Church, as reported in the fall 2015 edition of The Board Bulletin. At its meeting March 5, the Board of Directors approved the 2017 Benefits Plan.
The plan, which takes effect January 1, 2017, affirms the Board’s commitment to teaching elders and to the values of caring for those who serve the Church. It is connectional and restores complete call neutrality. Anchored in A Theology of Benefits, it holds that we care for each other as part of the community the Holy Spirit has gathered. In the video That They May Have Life Abundant …, the Reverend Frank Clark Spencer, President of the Board of Pensions, discusses the origins and intent of the redesign.
Central to understanding the 2017 Benefits Plan is knowing what’s not changing. Benefits for installed pastors will continue to include:
- the Pension Plan (dues of 11 percent of effective salary, fully paid by the employer);
- the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (RSP) (employer and/or member contributions voluntary);
- preferred provider organization (PPO) medical (dues of 24.5 percent of effective salary, fully paid by the employer);
- death and disability coverage (dues of 1 percent of effective salary, fully paid by the employer); and
- availability of dental, supplemental death, and supplemental disability coverage (with coverage-level pricing).
A change for 2017 is the restoration of call neutrality: Employers will not be able to share any portion of the medical dues amount with installed pastors. At the meeting, medical dues were approved for 2017 at 24.5 percent of effective salary, regardless of coverage level (member-only, member + child(ren), member + spouse, member + family).
As required by the Book of Order, all installed pastors must be enrolled for benefits, now met by Pastor’s Participation. For nearly 80 percent of congregations in the plan today this requires no change, as they cover only an installed pastor and no other employees.
A fundamental change to the plan is that employers will be able to make decisions about the benefits they offer to other employees and how much they will ask their employees to contribute toward the cost of medical coverage. The plan is no longer “all or nothing,” but is designed for flexibility to meet the many contexts of ministry.
Employers may select benefits from a menu of options for their other employees. Employers may choose to offer any or all of the following:
- the Pension Plan (dues of 11 percent of effective salary, fully paid by the employer)
- the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (RSP) (employer and/or member contributions voluntary)
- medical coverage in the PPO and/or an exclusive provider organization (EPO) (with coverage-level pricing)
- employers pay at least 50 percent of the cost of member-only coverage
- employers can ask members to pay up to 100 percent of the incremental coverage costs for other coverage levels
- death and disability coverage (dues, fully paid by the employer, of 1 percent of effective salary if offered with the Pension Plan or 3.5 percent of effective salary if offered on a stand-alone basis)
- availability of dental, supplemental death, and supplemental disability coverage (with coverage-level pricing)
For medical coverage, the costs will be shown in dollars by coverage level (member-only, member + child(ren), member + spouse, member + family). The costs will be employer-specific based on several factors, including the geographic region in which the employer is located.
Recognizing that the new approach may result in higher costs at certain coverage levels and in certain regions, the plan will provide transitional support for three years, through 2019, to help mitigate the increases.
The plan maintains the important value of community nature in several significant ways. PPO deductibles and copayment maximums are tied to salary. Members accrue pension credits based on the greater of salary or of the median income. Members receiving disability benefits continue to accrue pension credits. Death benefits include salary continuation payments to survivors.
Teaching elders who are not installed in a pastoral relationship with a congregation may, at the decision of the employer, be enrolled in Pastor’s Participation or, as with other employees, offered menu options.
Employers and plan members are encouraged to read the 2017 Benefits Plan Redesign for details on this summary provided here. In the upcoming weeks and months, the Board will provide further communication about these changes through print and electronic media as well as calls to employers. Employers will be able to begin to make decisions midsummer. Employees will then elect benefits from their employers’ offerings in the fall.
The Board’s Regional Representatives and Member Services and Employer Services teams will be available to assist or answer questions as we work through these changes together.
Helping employers provide benefits to more employees, helping them be the best they can be, is a faithful way to lift up the Church. This redesign will enable the Church to serve the whole community, from the smallest congregations to the largest.
Information from the Board of Pensions’ “Board Bulletin — Spring 2016.”
That They May Have Life Abundant … from The Board of Pensions PCUSA
That They May Have Life Abundant … from The Board of Pensions PC(USA) on Vimeo.
As with most things from the denominational bureaucracy, I really do not know what church or denomination they are seeking to speak to.
The vast, vast, vast, vast majority of church treasures or financial book keepers are lay-volunteer, non financial or health professionals. With greater and lesser levels of computer literacy. To now assume they will now be required or encouraged to engage a web based portal and do health care data entry, which legions of back office support does for major corporations is bit of stretch. On the best of days.
And now they seek to inject the politics and ideology of fossil hydrocarbon divestment into the process as far as the Pension plan goes now. There’s a winner.
I can see what they are trying to do, and all logical. Increase choice and options for health care, increase the risk pool, expand the coverage population and dues remitted. All needed and required from a demographic perspective.
But here is my prediction. The vast, vast majority of churches or employers will do absolutely nothing in response. The caution for the BOP is that if they make the access and mechanics of the process too difficult or hard to access, clergy and churches will just drop off, go off the grid, get heath care and services from other providers and fail to remit any funds to the BOP. At that point it becomes a Presbytery-church-BOP matter to adjudicate.
As most, if not all PCUSA Presbyteries are in some process of systemic collapse and barely functional on the required work they do, good luck with that added wrinkle now.
I don’t think you read the BOP report and proposal. This is not about fossil fuels, and it is hard to figure out where that came from. It is also not about treasurers spending computer time. It is a modification of the medical plan in the face of crushing cost increases and how as an employer the church can guarantee insurance and coverage for employees.
By definition and requirement you cannot go off the grid. Instead criticizing all the time, take the time to understand what to Board is trying to do and is doing.
I have to give brother James credit. In that as a defender of all things PCUSA on this web portal is a difficult job. And I will further agree with him, that the aim of the proposed changes are to bend the cost curve/risk pool demographics and populations to a more positive cash flow perspective as applies to its major medical plan. God bless them all. Where we part are to process and methodologies.
-The population served by the major medical plan tend to be sicker, older, more consuming of mental health, rehab. care than the general population at large. No new increase in either new folks or population served, be they Seminary, college academia, or church secretaries or sextons will change that.
-Like any other community or industry under economic stress, the clearest path forward is either through merger or acquisitions. The great collapse-depopulation of the church has real world consequences. There just is not enough PCUSA types-real or future or imagined to pay its bills going forward. Simple as that. It’s a math thing, not ideological.
-I agree further that the Pension Plan needs to processed and separated from the Health care plan in commentary and thought. But they are covering the same population group. One has 8 Billion, the other lives hands to mouth. That said, any time the BOP allows the nose of the MRTI in the tent, my counsel to him if he is in the plan is to save his money, he will need too.
I have spoken with a Board of Pensions rep about this. I’ve spoken with our COM about this. It is a great (and long overdue) idea. Allowing choice for those not installed, but serving the church is a great idea. Good job BoP!