By Rick Van Giesen
IGRC Treasurer & Benefits Officer
Three years ago, none of us could have predicted that the premium cost for Marketplace Health Insurance Plans would skyrocket. In addition, with health insurance companies pulling out of the Marketplace or vastly reducing plan choices, suddenly navigating “ObamaCare” has become vastly more complicated.
Personal testimonies and anecdotal experiences led us to believe that there may be better choices for some pastors and that the task of choosing a health insurance plan has caused undue burdens and stress for more than a few.
We began to ask ourselves if there were not resources available to ease the burden for pastors, to find new ways to utilize the tools of the Marketplace, or just to assure some pastors that the choices they have made were the right ones.
At that point, I was introduced to Monte Chamberlain, who is the director of Cost Stewardship, an Indiana company whose sole purpose is to find ways for pastors and local churches to save money. Cost Stewardship is endorsed by GCFA – a General Agency of the UMC.
Cost Stewardship has partnered with the Gravie company. I like to call them “Navigators on Steroids.” The Gravie company (www.gravie.com) specializes in empowering employees to make good decisions with their benefits dollars. The fit of what they do with what we felt we needed was unmistakable.
Right now, this program is only available to full-time pastors of local churches who receive the health insurance allowance in addition to salary. This is because the Conference Board of Pensions is paying for the service with health insurance dollars that remain from the former plan. Since the money was originally received for and by full-time pastors, it makes sense that they should enjoy the benefit. However, the program could be expanded if another source of funding is found.
Here’s how we want pastors to engage in the program. Please call Monte Chamberlain directly at (317) 409-2984. We think you will get more out of the program by talking to Monte first, but it is also possible for full-time pastors to contact Gravie directly by calling 800-501-2920 or going to our special website: https://www.gravie.com/?as=IllinoisGreatRiversUMC
For most customers, the call takes less than 45 minutes.
Please don’t delay! The open enrollment for Jan. 1, 2017 Marketplace plans ends Dec. 15.
Cost Stewardship helps local churches in other ways, from Federal rebates for health insurance costs in 2013 to refunds from utility companies, I urge you to invest a little time to reap dollars which you can turn into ministry: www.coststewardship.org