Healthy Living Pays Off for Annual Conference
For several years and millions of steps, clergy, clergy spouses, and other staff in the Oregon-Idaho Conference have participated in wellness programs offered through the HealthFlex insurance program. This year that participation has paid off in a big way.
Because health insurance claims were lower than premiums paid and investment returns on reserve funds were excellent, the conference received a HealthFlex performance dividend of over $540,000 from the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits. Additionally, the premium for 2015 will not increase and there will be no changes in the 2015 plan design.
At the Conference Board of Pensions meeting on March 15, 2014, the board officially allocated the dividend. First, in the coming weeks, local churches will receive a check from the Annual Conference equal to approximately 25% of the premium they paid in 2013. Second, HealthFlex participants will have increased financial incentives for participation in specific wellness activities. Participants in the 2014 Health Quotient survey will receive an additional $100 incentive. Similarly, participants will receive an additional $100 incentive for participating in the Blueprint for Wellness (preventive lab services). Third, $10,000 will be allocated to the Board of Ordained Ministry to assist clergy in taking time off to promote wellness. And finally, the balance of the rebate will be placed in the fund to support the Health Reimbursement Account benefit for retired clergy.
According to Rev. Danna Drum, a member of the board and self-avowed healthy person advocate, “Wellness is something we have to do together. It's not just an individual activity; it is a community mandate. Churches that create healthy environments for their community, health plan participants who are actively engaged in their health and appropriately utilize primary care and preventive services to identify and manage costly conditions early help all of us have the energy and resources we need to be in active mission and ministry. Thank you for your efforts to improve health.”
Conference Director of Stewardship and Finance, Bill Mullette-Bauer points out that, “Our goal is having healthy clergy who are able to serve faithfully. Reduced claims are an ancillary benefit to that.” According to Mullette-Bauer, the conference’s history with wellness indicates that claims paid for those who are high participants in the wellness program is significantly less that for non-participants. Healthflex will consider the possibility of rebates again in two years. Rebates are based on positive claim experience.