General CBF / Resources

Reform and the Church … Health Care That Is

This post comes from Allison Tennyson, Human Resources Specialist for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

It’s that time of year again; there’s a cool hint in the morning air, the school buses are running, the color and pagentry of college football is in full swing, and health insurance open enrollment may be just around the corner for the staff at your church.  With the passage of health care reform earlier this year, the main question for you may now be how it will effect your church staff health insurance coverage. 

Health care reform consists of two legislative acts: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.  The new health care legislation was inacted with the objective of making health care more available and affordable to more Americans.  While many of the provisions included in the legislation won’t go into effect until 2014, several portions take effect sooner. 

Provisions which take place six months after the law was inacted September 2010 (once your new insurance plan year begins) or in January 2011 include:

• No exclusion of coverage for children with pre-existing conditions.
• No lifetime maximums on benefits.
• Restrictions on the use of annual coverage maximums.
• Coverage of dependants to age 26 regardless of student or marital status.
• Prohibits insurance companies from dropping individuals from coverage if they get sick.
• Temporary high-risk pools established to cover individuals uninsured due to pre-existing conditions.
• Changes in regulations regarding the coverage of over-the-counter medication claims on Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs).

Most church staffs would be considered small businesses since they have fewer than 50 employees.  Small employers may qualify for credits to offset the cost of health insurance if they provide coverage to their employees.  Some reform provisions are specific to employers with 50 or more employees such as benefits those larger employers must provide to avoid penalties.  Please see the links below for details on provision requirements based on number of employees.  In addition, most Americans will be required to have health insurance by the year 2014 to avoid penalties though there are some exceptions for those who are members of a health care sharing ministry or members of religious sects opposed on the basis of religious grounds to the purchase of health insurance.

The size of the reform alone can seem overwhelming with the text of the legislation covering 2,500 pages.  It might be helpful to create a timeline so that you can work with your insurance carrier to focus on the provisions that need to be addressed now, and then address each subsequent year’s provisions as needed. 1 

In addition to receiving information from your current insurance carrier, you can access information regarding Health Care Reform and its provisions at the following:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
www.hhs.gov

www.HealthCare.gov

www.ChurchLawToday.com
1The informational details regarding health care reform included in this blog were gathered from the Church Law & Tax Report, July/August 2010, Senior Editor, Richard R. Hammar, JD., LL.M., CPA.

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