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As I’m sure you are aware, October is Pastor Appreciation Month. It’s a wonderful time we set aside to make sure the shepherds of our local communities – our lead pastors, our music directors, our family and children’s pastors, etc. – are recognized and appreciated. But it’s not just about appreciation. It’s important to make sure our pastors and staff members are properly CARED for. Caring for your pastor, however, can take many different forms. If you serve as an elder or on a church board, you know that sometimes that looks like proper compensation. It may look like adequate housing for a pastor and his family. Perhaps it looks like mental and emotional support for those who work full time for the local church body. Over the next two weeks, I would like to challenge each of you reading today to consider adequate health and retirement benefits as an incredibly important way we are called to care for our pastors and leaders.

This week, I’d like to talk to you about healthcare. At Alliance Benefits, we have spent the last several years refining, improving, and honing the Alliance U.S. Health Plan into a plan now considered to be a best-in-class offering. If you read my blog article from a few weeks ago, you will remember that I touted the numbers “4-3-3-0-2.” Those are the last five years of premium percentage changes in the Alliance domestic plan. This plan has not seen an increase of greater than 4% on medical premiums since 2017, including a rate hold in 2021 and a small 2% increase this upcoming year. Because of these low renewal numbers, we have moved the plan into an extremely competitive position in the healthcare marketplace. In fact, I recently had one of our participating churches tell me that a local broker wasn’t able to find them anything remotely close to the Alliance plan in cost without drastically reducing the benefits on their plan.

Speaking of the plan benefits, the advantages of the Alliance plan are not just related to cost, though we’ve been working hard on that aspect. We certainly don’t want you to treat your pastor’s healthcare or that of his family as a simple commodity.

I encourage you to join us on either Tuesday, Nov 2, or Wednesday, Nov 3, at 10:00 am PT/1:00 pm ET for a 1-hour webinar where we will dive further into the plan’s benefits and how your church can join if you aren’t currently taking advantage of it.

Here is a brief overview of the unique benefits of the Alliance Health plan:

  • The Alliance Health Plan is a self-funded church health plan, made exclusively for the Alliance family. Your premium dollars go to support all Alliance pastors, workers, and staff members on our plan.
  • As a church plan, we can administrate benefits in a way that supports our sanctity of life positions and those on human sexuality. It also allows us the flexibility to pay 100% for items – such as certain insulins – that other plans in the marketplace or cost-sharing ministry plans don’t.
  • Because of our unique plan design, we can build Health Savings Account contributions into the premium that will cover half of the individual or family’s deductible over the course of a year. Any dollars not used in that year carry over indefinitely, without any expiration.
  • We recently instituted a revolutionary wellness program that rewards members for utilizing their free preventative benefits and taking advantage of easy-to-follow wellness programs with up to $500 in their Health Savings Accounts. This is money back to you just for taking care of yourself!
  • Speaking of HSAs, our account vendor, Lively, was recently named top HSA provider by Morningstar for the third year running. Their site is user-friendly, makes investing your dollars easy, and securely puts all your account information at your fingertips.
  • Just before the pandemic, we completely overhauled the telemedicine program, and it really paid off for our members – and continues to do so! Our program allows members to call for free to get medical help or advice, and if the U.S Board-certified physician they are talking to writes a prescription over the phone, it’s just a small $25 fee for the service. Additionally, the doctor will phone that prescription into the local pharmacy of your choice. This feature saved our members tens of thousands of dollars in total during the 2020 lockdowns and continues to do so today by avoiding urgent care facilities, ERs, and doctor’s offices.
  • If you are using a local facility, we are part of a vast, broad network through utilizing the Anthem/Blue Cross Blue Shield national network. We also partner with national vendors like Delta Dental and EyeMed for your dental and vision needs, each of whom boasts some of the country’s largest networks.
  • The Alliance Health Plan covers medical and prescription needs and includes life insurance and an option for long term disability insurance.
  • Finally, we are on the brink of launching a new eBenefits portal in 2022 that will give our members access to all of their benefits in one location, with links and access to all of the tools needed to manage those benefits – Wellness, Employee Assistance Program, Life Insurance beneficiaries, etc. This will be a powerful yet easy-to-use tool that will simplify and streamline the way our customers enroll in and manage their health benefits.

These are just a few of the reasons that we are excited about the way we can serve our Alliance family with a strong, competitive, and cost-effective healthcare plan. This plan is a great way to care for pastor and family in a way that reduces the stress, heartache, and confusion around choices for care. If you aren’t currently on the Alliance Health Plan, please plan to join us at one of the webinars listed above. If you cannot attend a webinar, feel free to contact our office at 800-700-2651 or [email protected].

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Grace and peace,

Curtis Farmer
Executive Director for Alliance Benefits

Curtis joined the Alliance Benefits team in September of 2017. Serving as Executive Director, he is responsible for the overall administration and direction of all aspects of Alliance Benefits, including the health and retirement plans for Alliance workers in the United States and internationally.