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Health Reform

In an effort to help guide our local churches, we are providing information that your churches should be aware of regarding The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) law – Health Reform.  Please pass this information on to your local churches.  This change does impact our Free Methodist Churches and we want you to be aware of the following:

  • Employees of churches are not exempt from having to carry coverage. Everyone will be required to have some form of health insurance either through a group plan, an individual plan, or a state exchange as of January 1, 2014.
    • Open enrollment begins October 1, 2013 with coverage beginning January 1, 2014.  Open enrollment will end March 31, 2014.
    • There is an Individual Shared Responsibility that starts January 1, 2014.  Everyone must purchase insurance and if individuals don’t, there will be a penalty. Those below the poverty level (single $9,350 married filing jointly) will not pay a penalty and will be enrolled in Medicaid.
  • Pastors and staff are employees of their local church and not the conference.  Even though a pastor is appointed by conference, the employer is where their compensation comes from and is shown on the W-2 form.
  • Employers, this includes churches, who employ more than 50 full time employees (30 hours or more) are required to provide health coverage for their employees or they will receive a penalty.  Churches employing fewer than 50 are not required to provide coverage.  Although, typically that benefit is provided by most of our churches.
  • Every church should complete one of the attached forms and give (email is fine) to each of their employees, regardless of whether the employee has health coverage or not. The form is very easy to complete.  This notification informs people about the Healthcare Exchange-Marketplace.
    • There are two forms and the employer will complete the one form that is applicable to their situation.  One is for those that provide coverage through the employer, and the other form is for those employers that do not provide coverage to their staff members.  Most smaller churches with fewer than 50 employees will be using the form that is “without plans.”
    •  The form was to be given to current employees by October 1, 2013.  There are no penalties at this time if you have not distributed the form.  We encourage you to still complete the process to ensure your employees are aware of their options.  New hires must be given the form within 14 days of hire.
  • Under the health care reform law, health care exchanges – or marketplaces – were to be set up in every state.  Many states elected not to do so, which means an individual will need to go to the federal exchange if there is not one in their state.  http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2013/MarketplacePremiums/ib_marketplace_premiums.cfm   – check on your state.
  • In planning and evaluating health insurance coverage for 2014, there are three options:
  1. Continue to purchase coverage in the open market just like in the past, be it an individual or group plan, based upon the number of employees participating.
  2. Go to the new Exchange Marketplace as a small group (SHOP – Small Business Health Options Program). One product offered.  This could provide tax credits.
  3. Go to the individual market place for individual or family coverage.
  • If you are not in a group plan, you may be eligible for tax credits and out-of-pocket assistance.
    • For ministers the income level for determining eligibility for tax credits and out-of-pocket expenses assistance is based on modified adjusted gross household income, which does not include the housing allowance compensation.  As a result, many ministers may qualify for tax credits through the new Exchange Marketplace.
  • Churches must address four main concerns as they look to re-enrollment for 2014 in their health plans:
  1. Whether they will provide coverage for their employees or put them in a position of having to obtain coverage on secular exchanges.
  2. How exchange plan benefits and total cost of coverage, including out-of-pocket expense, exchange taxes and fees, will compare with their existing coverage.
  3. Whether, if they use a secular health plan provider, they will be subsidizing objectionable contraceptives, including abortifacients.
  4. Whether their health plans meet applicable health care reform limits and rules.

Local Church Direct Monthly Pension Contribution Billing Model

In response to Resolution 19 from General Conference 2011, the FMCUSA Human Resources (HR) office began transitioning in January of 2012 from quarterly conference billings for pension contributions to monthly contributions that will come directly from the local church.  See Contribution Processing for Local Churches Guidelines for additional information.

Conference Quarterly Pension Contribution Billing Model

The Conference Office and the Pension Plans:  What are the Conference’s Responsibilities? As a conference office, you provide a valuable service to your pastors.  One of these areas of service is to enroll eligible participants into the pension plan and update the Human Resources office of any changes in salary or appointment.

We have provided reference information through a Pension Benefit Administrator’s Manual.  This manual has been provided to each conference, along with a CD that provides .pdf versions of forms such as enrollment forms and change of status forms.  The manual discusses the details of the pension plans, the benefits provided by both plans and the contribution billings.  We have provided some of this information below.  Click on the links below to view various sections of the manual:

Billing Information