Old, Fat and Sick -- and Not Taking Care of Ourselves


I’m going to admit that I’m discouraged. Yesterday, I was a participant one of the most depressing meetings I have attended since my appointment as the Conference Benefits Officer.

Our new health insurance administrator now has a full year of experience with our group and they are able to drill down into our data in ways that we have not seen before – to reveal things we would rather not see.
Prior to their arrival at our meeting, I told my associate, “All they are going to tell us is that we (as a group) are old, fat and sick – I don’t know why they bother.” But I learned something new: Yes, as a group, we are old, fat and sick – but we are also not taking care of ourselves. This is serious, folks.
In our little group of about 1,000 active members (including spouses and children) there are 118 confirmed diabetics (there are probably many more who are undiagnosed). Of those 118 diabetics, only 12 completed all five of the preventive services recommended by the American Diabetes Association. Of our females over age 50, only half received a breast cancer screening and less than a third received a cervical cancer screening. Among all adults, only 37 percent had their cholesterol checked – other groups average 61 percent. Less than a third of us even went to the doctor for preventive care.
Here is the result of who we are and how we act: Last year, we paid out an average of $7,494 per person in medical claims. The rest of HealthScope’s groups paid $3,193. So, we are well over twice the average of other groups. There were 34 members in our group who had claims of over $50,000. The average catastrophic claim was $103,297 and the highest was well over $300,000.
Let me be clear: Our current health insurance plan is not sustainable. The Conference Board of Pensions will be recommending changes in plan deductibles and co-pays for 2014, but these are only expected to save about $400,000. The Board knows this and plans to spend reserves in 2014.
I have sat for long hours with administrators, consultants, experts, other benefits managers and read everything I can get my hands on to find economies in our plan or through participation in the Affordable Care Act. Right now, the silver bullet just isn’t there. We are hopeful that by the 2015 plan year, there will be more options.

Until then my friends and colleagues, something has to change – and I think it’s us. I realize that we will not turn around years of neglect in the short term, but we can make a start. Can we agree that part of our covenant to each other, to the members that we serve and to God is to be healthy enough to stay in the pulpit? Please, pick up the phone NOW and make those appointments with your physicians. Take care of yourself, OK?