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Church, Meet Obamacare: Report 2 from NAD Year-end Meetings


First a young women representing the church’s early childhood education ministry reported on how new healthcare benefit requirements will make it more difficult — more expensive — to employ good people.  She was making a plea to keep her domain of ministry strong.

It won’t be easy.

But today Adventist Risk Management presenters at the meeting of the North American Division Executive Committee shared ideas that members embraced as helpful.  Robert Kyte, ARM President, shared the podium with two colleagues; together they attempted both to clarify healthcare reality and also to make a case for policy change.

Discussion focused first on the NAD Healthcare Assistance Plan (HCAP), which ARM administers.  The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, will have a challenging effect on benefits, employee eligibility and, of course, finances.  Employer expenses will ascend, and so will cash-flow difficulties associated with the cost-volatility of self-funded insurance programs such as exist for organizations in the NAD.  A plan was presented under which organizations would no longer be charged with actual (and widely varying) costs for particular periods.  Each organization would instead pay regularly recurring fees that reflect its five year health-cost average, adjusted annually.  This would make these costs predicable for financial officers, and would, over the long term, incentivize organizations to encourage more responsible health behavior on the part of employees.

Participants voted overwhelmingly to recommend implementation of the plan, effective January 1, 2014.

Presenters then offered a crash course on the rising cost of healthcare.  Just coping will require increasing deductibles and other out-of-pocket employee expenses.  Another motivator is that by 2018 federal policy will impose a “Cadillac tax” of 40% on healthcare plans that exceed just over $10,000 per year per employee in employer contributions.  ARM was empowered earlier to implement policy shifts — so far, they seem not too oppressive — that will put more of the healthcare cost burden on church employees.  Again, one possible outcome will be greater incentive for healthy lifestyles.  No vote was needed.  There was no expression of frustration or outrage.

Finally, the ARM team described a proposed “My Choice” approach to healthcare plans for denominational employees. It would offer options on both benefits and premiums.  Those who want lower paycheck deductions — perhaps younger employees who could accept the risk — would pay more for services they use.  Others could choose higher premiums in return for lowered cost of services.  This would be implemented without a cost impact to the organizations themselves.

Members in attendance voted, again overwhelmingly, to affirm implementation of My Choice Healthcare Plans, beginning, in this case, on January 1, 2015. 

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