Health insurance proposal to be tested
Mennonite Church USA pastors, church workers would be included in plan.by Adapted from a Mennonite Church USA release
Mennonite Church USA Executive Leadership continues to work at a plan to provide basic health insurance for all eligible Mennonite Church USA pastors and church workers.
Initiatives include a pastors’ survey, finding options for sharing the cost of the policies for pastors, a conference for leaders who manage current insurance pools for Mennonite Church USA institutions and meetings with congregations to test funding models.
Keith Harder, health-care access project director for Mennonite Church USA Executive Leadership, is working with a team of leaders that represent area conferences, churchwide agencies, schools and more.
“We are learning about the human cost and the compromised ministry,” Harder says, “that results from inadequate access to health care. We are not content knowing that some pastors in our church are one illness or one accident away from a crushing burden of debt.
“Joining together to share health-care risk for our pastors begins to address the widening gap between those congregations with abundant financial resources and those with less access to financial resources.”
All Mennonite Church USA pastors 64 years old and younger received a survey in February to gather information about their health care and health insurance needs.
The survey was not sent to older pastors because the health-care access project team assumes pastors age 65 and older use Medicaid benefits. The survey findings will be reported this spring.
A conference involving leaders from Mennonite Church USA’s existing insurance pools was held March 10-11 in Middlebury, Ind. Participants included representatives from Mennonite Church USA agencies, colleges and universities and other institutions.
Before the conference, Mennonite Mutual Aid completed its work with the project team to develop options for sharing the cost of health care for pastors in fair and appropriate ways.
The results of this work will be tested with area conferences and in regional consultations with congregations from late March through June. This testing process will involve representatives from congregations—including pastors, financial leaders and other lay leadership.
By late summer or early fall, the health-care access project team will assess whether it is possible to establish a health plan to cover all eligible Mennonite Church USA pastors and church workers with basic health insurance based on the cost-sharing model presented at these consultations.
According to Harder, Executive Leadership hopes that if a new plan is developed, enrollment would begin in 2009.
“This project is about more than insurance,” Harder says. “It is about what kind of church we will be and how we see God at work in our midst. A plan that will provide adequate health-care access for all our pastors will only come about as a work of God among us.”—Adapted from a release by Marathana Prothro of Mennonite Church USA
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Adapted from a release by Marathana Prothro of Mennonite Church USA