Denominational Health Plan (A177): News of Equal Access Mandates

Denominational Health Plan (A177): News of Equal Access Mandates

Resolution A177 to establish a Denominational Health Plan (DHP) was presented to the 2009 General Convention and enacted into canon law after an exhaustive study commissioned by the 2006 General Convention. The plan is to be designed and administered by the Church Pension Group and sponsored by the Church Medical Trust (CMT). It includes all domestic dioceses and churches. It is available to schools and other diocesan institutions according to diocesan policy. The deadline for implementation is January 1, 2013.

The Insurance Committee of our Diocese saw this coming and recommended to the Board and Council that we move administration of our group insurance to the CMT on December 1, 2008. It was an easy choice as CMT’s wide array of plan offerings gave us an opportunity to provide low cost quality coverage to the rural reaches of our Diocese. CMT also offers enhanced benefits such as an Employee Assistance Program, patient advocacy, and expanded access to mental health benefits. They have been at the top of the curve with health care reform and our rate increases for 2010 and 2011 are well below the national averages.

What you need to know today is that the DHP requires equal access to health care benefits for both eligible clergy and eligible lay employees. This is referred to as parity. Our Diocese has a history of ensuring that clergy are fully covered by medical insurance. Unfortunately, the health care needs of our lay employees have not been addressed until recently. Even now, many of our churches and institutions do not provide the same benefits to lay employees who have to pay a higher cost share of health insurance premiums. In some cases they are not offered this coverage at all.

You have time to review your budgets to ensure you have allocated adequate resources for the health insurance benefits of your lay employees. Current Diocesan policy requires that all employees working 20 hours/week or more and all salaried employees are eligible for health and dental coverage. Employers are required to pay at least 80% of the lowest cost premiums for those working 30 hours/week or more. This cost share may be prorated for employees working less than 30 hours/week. At 20 hours/week or more all employees must receive group life and disability benefits. Clergy receive most of these benefits through CPG.

While you may continue to pay a higher cost share to clergy employees through 2011 we expect to see parity be required by diocesan policy as of January 1, 2012. You will hear a lot about this over the next year.

If you have any questions about the implementation of the DHP please feel free to contact me, Bobbi Yeo, at bobbi@norcalepiscopal.org or 800-442-6918 x211.

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