Directors transition at The Corinthian Plan

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Everence supports church benefits plan that continues to be stable

Keith Harder of Hillsboro, Kan., retired March 31 from his position as director of The Corinthian Plan, a Mennonite Church USA-sponsored health coverage and benefits program based on mutual care practices.

Duncan Smith of Beaverton, Ore., who has been an area representative for the plan for the West Coast since 2010, began March 15 as interim director for a one-year term.

Overview of the plan

Inspired by 2 Corinthians 8:14, the plan was launched in January 2010. The self-funded plan provides benefits for pastors and staff members in 401 congregations within Mennonite Church USA and for employees of some area conferences and church agencies. It represents about 70 percent of Mennonite Church USA congregations with eligible employees.

Since the plan’s inception, participating congregations have contributed more than $2 million to the plan’s mutual care component—the Fair Balance Fund—which helps smaller congregations to be able to participate in the plan. Currently 51 congregations are receiving subsides totaling just under $450,000 per year.

The role of Everence

Everence—the denomination’s stewardship agency—administers The Corinthian Plan, and claims are paid by Blue Cross Blue Shield. The plan also provides benefits to staff of the Executive Board, Mennonite Mission Network, Everence, and Associated Schools and Camps.

“Working with the Everence staff has been very rewarding for all of us,” said Harder. “In the planning stages, they certainly provided services that went way beyond what we were contracting for, and I am very grateful for all that they gave.”

Smith's dual role and vision

Smith will continue in his area representative role—serving Pacific Northwest, Pacific Southwest and Mountain States Mennonite conferences—in addition to the role of director.

“One of the reasons I wanted to serve as an area representative was to work with congregations on the margins—immigrant and lower-income congregations—especially in gaining access to health care,” Smith said. “Over the years, I have also been impressed with how the wellness incentives and coaching options have grown and are beginning to meet more of the needs of those participating in plan.”

Corinthian Plan renewals strong in 2014

The Church Benefits Board that oversees The Corinthian Plan met at the end of March. According to Keith Harder, outgoing director, and Duncan Smith, incoming director, the plan continues to be in a stable, financially strong position.

Twenty congregations did not renew their coverage for 2014, and of those, about half a dozen opted to purchase coverage through an Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange plan. That amount was not enough to cause concern, Harder said.

“There’s every intention of continuing this plan in 2015,” he noted, “but the board will continue to review the impact of the ACA and monitor denominational participation in general.”

He said that while the number of 400 participating congregations has proven to be a sustainable level, the number of congregations is not as important as the risk profiles of the members.

“Our numbers indicate that the risk we have right now is manageable and sustainable, and the board is watching that carefully,” he said. He added that participation in the plan’s wellness program is growing.

While some congregations are exploring the ACA exchanges, Harder noted that there will still be people without access to coverage due to their income level and because some states are choosing not to expand Medicaid coverage. In The Corinthian Plan, eligibility is based on hours of paid work/ministry, not on income. For example, TCP provides coverage for bivocational pastors who might not be eligible for other plans.

“We think there will continue to be a niche for TCP until some of those things get worked out,” he said. “Obviously we need to have enough congregations participating to make it viable.

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Everence staff