The Great Plains Conference Pension and Health Benefits team has taken steps to help clergy who qualify obtain a grant to offset escalating costs for health insurance.
The team has established an emergency health grant for active clergy serving at three-quarters or full time who are eligible for the current health allowance of $15,850. The grant comes in response to inquiries from clergy members serving churches as three-quarter-time or full-time pastors who found purchasing health insurance on state exchanges far exceeded the health allowance.
The grant will not exceed $15,000 and will be provided to pay premiums that qualify for Affordable Health Care-compliant bronze-level insurance plans that exceed the current health allowance of $15,850 for the year. While support levels will be based on the cost of a bronze plan, clergy are allowed to select an ACA-compliant plan of his or her choice.
Scott Brewer, conference treasurer and director of administrative services, said the Great Plains has sufficient pension reserves to provide this support for 2018.
“But this is a temporary stop-gap for next year,” Brewer said. “The Pension and Health Benefits Team is continuing to work to find more permanent solutions for 2019 and beyond.”
The annual conference session members voted during the 2017 meetings in Grand Island to retain the health allowance instead of returning to a group health plan. Since then, Nebraska has been left with only one provider in the state’s insurance exchange, and Kansas has lost at least one provider as well.
The new grants will be approved by the Pension and Health Benefits Team based on the following requirements: