Friday, August 23, 2013

GuideStone seeking ObamaCare subsidies?

Well, not really. But if I understand O. S. Hawkins correctly, GuideStone is lobbying to get laws passed so that GuideStone can indirectly receive government subsidies.

While many pastors and their families would otherwise qualify for these [health care exchange] subsidies, the way the law was written excludes them from accessing subsidies if they participate in a church health plan, such as GuideStone's. GuideStone views this as an issue of fundamental unfairness. (Baptist Press)
It must be tough for GuideStone to advocate a position that acknowledges, seems to me, that they may be in a non-competitive position in the individual health care market unless their present and potential clients are allowed to access the same ObamaCare premium subsidies that they would be if they left GuideStone and bought their health coverage from one of the secular providers participating in the exchanges.

I am heavily flummoxed about all the health care changes. Here's what I understand relative to ObamaCare and my insurance provider, GuideStone:

1. GuideStone will continue to provide ministers with health insurance in 2014 and beyond.

2. GuideStone will still NOT allow enrollment of new participants in 2014 who have preexisting conditions.

3. GuideStone will have competition from the Exchanges. As an aside, preliminary figures in my state make the exchanges, with the subsidies, very attractive to someone with my family income. 

Here are the questions that express what I do not know about GuideStone and ObamaCare:

1. Will GuideStone be forced at some point in the future to accept those with preexisting conditions or will their plan be grandfathered in, allowing them to continue to require underwriting and reject some applicants?

2. Will GuideStone's present participants be able to leave GS, move to one of the exchanges, and receive the premium subsidies? (I think the answer to this is 'yes' and that the issue of the subsidies is as I described above - staying with GS and receiving them, where the answer is 'no.')

3. Does GuideStone expect that their premium structure will become highly noncompetitive if a significant number of participants move to the exchanges? I suspect that no one knows the answer to this.

4. Does GuideStone have any expectations of selling policies to young, healthy Southern Baptists or does the lack of the premium subsidy effectively eliminate the bulk of this market?

I get the general feeling that GuideStone is gearing their marketing thrust to existing clients with a heavy emphasis on continuity, trust, and comfort level. That, with a bit of scare-mongering. While I like continuity, I'm not sure it's worth several hundred dollars a month. But then, I don't know the bottom line...yet.

Frankly, I'd like to hear more straight talk from GuideStone on all this.


Anonymous said...

This may be a little off topic but how come you are the only blogger that puts fresh material on their blog? Some of the "big ones" haven't posted anything new in weeks. You think it might be because some of them have run out of "material"?

William Thornton said...

I think all of the big guns get July and August for vacation, while mere mortals like me still have to slog away. ;)

Anonymous said...

Guidestone keeps saying that the law is unfair to pastors and churches, but what they mean is the law is unfair to GUIDESTONE. The government doesn't want competition for its tax dollars and Guidestone will never get this law past. It is time for pastors and staff to wise up and just drop Guidestone.

Lou Johnson said...

Since my wife has a preexisting medical condition, she has been unable to receive insurance from Guidestone from the get-go. For a long time I was insured under her employer's group policy, but she now works for a small concern that doesn't offer insurance benefits. (Incidentally, that circumstance in her office is unrelated to the implementation of Obamacare, as that was the case before Mr. Obama was elected to his 1st term.) Long story short, we've been uninsured for the past 3 years. But even for me, a guy who is relatively young and healthy (15 years from full retirement age and no chronic medical conditions), Guidestone's premiums are so high compared to those of other insurers that they would be way down on my list of potential insurance providers, even if they were to qualify for an Obamacare subsidy. So as for me and my house, it's a no-brainer: Wait until the marketplace opens and get insurance for both of us (since my wife will no longer be disqualified by her preexisting condition), take advantage of the subsidy, and call it a day.

As for Guidestone's lobbying to be eligible to qualify for the federal subsidies: So far as I can see (which admittedly isn't very far), it would seem that in order to receive the same benefit as other insurers, they'd have to accept all comers to their product--including those with preexisting conditions.

Anonymous said...

Today I was declined for insurance from Guidestone due to a "pre-existing" condition. However, they have the nerve to seek government susidies while not complying with government guidlines. They either need to accept the guidelines AND the subsidies or reject them both. I may not be able to pursue full time vocational ministry in a church because I can't get insurance. For all the issues Obamacare will inevitably cause I am hopeful that it will grant me insurance. We shall see.