UMCSC health costs to stay low thanks to strong investment earnings

By Jessica Brodie

GREENVILLE—Thanks to strong investment earnings, clergy and laity covered by the South Carolina health insurance plan will see no increase in premium next year even though premium costs will rise.

In their report approved at Annual Conference June 5, the South Carolina Board of Pension and Health Benefits spoke about the rising costs of healthcare and the many ways their board is striving to, as the Rev. David Anderson said, serve those who serve.

“We don’t set premiums. Wespath does not set premiums. Our claims set our premiums in the health plan,” Anderson told the body that morning as he presented the report.

Anderson said that while pensions will remain the same for 2019, the costs of health premiums are set to rise 7.8 percent beyond what they were in 2018. But when they saw their investment earnings were much better than anticipated—with a 17.6 percent return—the board authorized using a portion of the investment gains to subsidize 2019 and 2020 for both participants and churches to keep premium increases smooth.

Valerie Brooks-Madden, chair of the board, lifted up the excellent work of Anderson, who is retiring this year, and introduced the new benefits officer, the Rev. Chris Lollis.

Anderson took a moment onstage to thank God, his wife, Bishop Jonathan Holston, the Cabinet and all who have served with him on the board over the past two decades.

“We are indebted to the leadership David Anderson has given to the South Carolina Annual Conference,” Holston said as the room gave Anderson a standing ovation.

The board said the use of the investment earnings means there will be no increase in the health fee charged to churches; decreases in premiums for individuals electing participant-only coverage; and
 a mix of decreases or slight increases in premiums in other tiers.

To ease the burden of expected future premium increases on churches, pastors and conference employees, Brooks-Madden told the Advocate the board will continue to subsidize premiums in 2020 and 2021, but in progressively smaller amounts. The estimated total subsidy for 2020 will be $265,000.

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