OKUMC announces emergency health insurance contribution increase for local churches
The Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church has announced an emergency increase of local church contributions for health insurance coverage.
Without immediate increases, the conference’s self-funded health insurance reserves could become insolvent in 2019.
“In other words, we might not be able to pay claims,” said Charla Gwartney, who chairs the Board of Pension and Health Benefits for the OKUMC. “It could result in immediate loss of coverage for all participants.”
The increase will occur in two steps. Currently, local churches are billed $580 each month, or $6,960 annually, for every full-time clergy person appointed or on staff. As of Jan. 1, the rate will increase to $780 per month; a second increase on July 1 will bring the monthly contribution to $980 per month. Overall, each church will experience a $3,600 increase in 2019 for an annual total of $10,560 for each full-time clergy person appointed or on staff.
“Since premiums have increased for participants three times in the last five years and the contributions from local churches have remained the same, we felt we had to ask for a larger contribution from local churches,” Gwartney said.
Rev. Connie Gibson, district superintendent of the Wichitas District and Cabinet representative to BOPHB, said the board is aware both of the difficulty many churches will face due to the increased cost and that most churches have already finalized their 2019 budgets. She said a new pastor compensation form will be sent out in December that will detail payment information and cover both rate changes.
“If these changes have a significant impact upon the current or future appointment of a pastor to your local church, we invite these conversations to occur with your district superintendent sooner rather than later,” Gibson said.
“We realize there is no way this can be heard as good news at the end of 2018, but we do want to assure you of our commitment to keep our costs as low as possible, to review every option available for lower-cost benefits, and to keep you informed of our financial position every quarter of 2019,” Gwartney said.
A full video statement and a Q & A fact sheet prepared by Gwartney are available here.
Contribution Summary for 2019
Jan. 1-June 30: $780/month
July 1-Dec. 31: $980/month
Current annual total
Total annual increase
New contribution for 2019