Covenant Churches, Retirees to Share $1 Million ‘Surprise’

CHICAGO, IL (March 9, 2011) – Local Evangelical Covenant churches and retirees will be pleasantly surprised to learn that the Bethany Benefit Service medical and dental insurance premium for the month of June has been waived – a move that is expected to collectively save local churches and individuals covered by Bethany $1 million in premium savings.

In addition to medical and dental coverage, the Bethany plan provides coverage for prescription drugs, vision, life and long-term disability insurance, and an Employee Assistance Program. The modest June premium for life and long-term care is not included in the waiver, however.

Bethany Benefit Service currently covers more than 1,170 pastors, missionaries, retirees, surviving spouses and office workers at churches, conferences, and affiliated Covenant entities, including camps and mission regions – representing a combined total of more than 3,200 lives.

With this June premium holiday, actual year-over-year premiums will decrease by 4.3 percent compared to last year – and this at a time when most employers have faced double-digit premium increases.

This unusual “medical premium holiday,” approved by the Covenant Board of Pensions and Benefits, is made possible by a combination of factors: better-than-expected claims experience as well as significant provider discounts and administrative cost savings achieved by collaborating with other denominations, negotiating on behalf of 350,000 lives collectively represented.

“We are delighted to be able to make these savings available to our churches and retirees at this time of continued significant economic uncertainty,” says Elliott Johnson, assistant director of pensions and Covenant Controller, who has lead responsibility for Bethany Benefit Service. “God has truly blessed these programs, which provide such excellent coverage to those Covenanters having medical needs.”

“Within the Covenant spirit of being ‘in it together,’ Bethany provided an excellent example of how we all benefit by working together,” says Dean Lundgren, the Covenant’s director of pensions and vice president of finance.

Participating employers and retirees will get their lower invoices shortly. For those paying by ACH, the second quarter ACH deduction will only be for the months of April and May 2011.

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