2021 has witnessed hospitals and ICUs filled to capacity, increased claims related to COVID-19 testing and care, significant increases in pharmacy claims, as well as additional care that was delayed due to COVID-19 isolation in 2020. All have contributed to drive insurance rates to rise for 2022 throughout the United States.
That has set the stage for increases in costs for GuideStone health plans, as well. While some will experience little to no increase, health plan participants will see an average increase of 5.7% in Group health plans and 8.0% in Personal Plans.
“We’ve been working diligently for a number of years to provide health coverage at the most affordable rates possible,” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said. “GuideStone’s health plans receive no Cooperative Program funding — the plan pays all claims out of the premiums charged by the plan. This means the higher the claims experience, the higher future premiums. With significant headwinds from our participants’ claims experience going up this year coupled with the general inflation in the medical marketplace, our team continues to work diligently to offer medical plans that meet the needs of pastors and church and ministry workers.”
To help healthy pastors and their families who want protection from larger claims, GuideStone previously introduced its Secure Health 3000 plan to offer true medical coverage at pricing similar to health sharing organizations. This year, GuideStone added another plan, Secure Health 8000, which offers additional cost savings while requiring additional cost-sharing from participants in those plans.
For information on reducing health care costs with Secure Health 8000 protection plans, visit GuideStone.org and select either Individual or Organization and choose “Insurance.”
Chu Soh, who joined GuideStone as chief insurance officer last year, has tasked his team with reviewing and aggressively researching expanded opportunities for additional products and services that will offer cost savings in 2022 and beyond.
“We believe that a healthy body of Christ is free to transform the world,” Soh said. “We are committed to doing our part to make sure we offer options that fit the budget needs of churches within the framework of running the plan effectively for the participants in the program. This has been a tough couple of years for pastors and churches with COVID restrictions limiting meetings and pastors contending with the death of members. The increased stress and isolation pastors have experienced have led to additional mental health diagnoses and treatment. With those diagnoses, it has doubled their uses of other kinds of health care. Stress is affecting both the physical and emotional well-being of pastors. There is a high correlation between mental and emotional health and medical utilization. At GuideStone, we want our pastors to be well so they can do well. Addressing these mental and physical ailments are a good first step. Eating right, getting proper rest and exercise will help as pastors work to keep both their mental and physical health in check.”
GuideStone continues to look at innovative solutions for delivering best-in-class, quality health care coverage for its participants.
“We continue to be committed to providing health plans that reflect the values of those we serve — for example, not covering abortions or abortion-causing drugs — at the lowest price possible,” he said. “We will continue to keep our focus on innovative health plan options and finding more options at price points so that every church and ministry can take care of their pastors and staff.”
Rate notification letters are going out and should be received by most participants by mid-October.
Roy Hayhurst is the director of denominational and public relations at GuideStone.