Most pastors, like ordinary Americans, are acutely attuned to health care costs and especially to the premiums they pay or their church pays for comprehensive health care coverage. The holy grail of healthcare for Southern Baptists is be employed by or have an arrangment with some SBC entity whereby they pay your health insurance premiums. We hacker and plodder pastors who go individually to GuideStone pay high premiums for not-so-hot coverages.
I suppose GuideStone is doing the best they can with a voluntary pool of aging clergy whose health habits are measurably below the general population (think fried chicken and rotund reverends) but coverages have deteriorated and premiums have risen, both substantially.
It's an unholy mess. No one is happy about GuideStone health coverages and premiums.
I am approaching retirement age and the coverages my church can afford on me are pathetic even though the premiums amount to over a thousand dollars a month. When I retire, my health care premiums will be my largest monthly bill, easily going beyond my combined mortgage plus escrow payments.
So, when I learn that the North American Mission Board has been carrying health insurance for around 340 missions personnel who are only partly funded by NAMB, well, I'm interested.
That is a sweet deal.
Get the picture here. Some missionaries for whom NAMB provides as little as $100 in monthly support qualify for having NAMB pick up their insurance. Of course, that means Annie Armstrong and Cooperative Program givers - you, me, our churches - struggle to pay insurance for our full time people but if you can get NAMB to jointly fund a position, even part time, even the slightest fraction part time, and we get to pay their insurance also. Not so sweet.
It's time to say goodbye to the sweet deal. NAMB is eliminating insurance for positions for which they are not primary employer. Good for NAMB.
"We do not feel obligated to pay those benefits when we are not the primary employer" says NAMB leader, Kevin Ezell.
Ezell estimates that this will eventually result in up to a $5 million annual savings. Annual savings? Five million...anually? Good heavens.
While I sympathize with those affected, nothing raises the ire of folks in the pulpits and pews greater than when they learn that some people in SBC life are getting a sweet deal, and we are paying for it.
Good move, NAMB.
My source for this is reporting in The Christian Index, November 3, 2011.