Hawkins: GuideStone, other denominational plans at risk

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--President Obama's health care proposal would spell the end of denominational health insurance programs such as the one run by the Southern Baptist Convention's GuideStone Financial Resources, GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins says.

Speaking at the SBC Executive Committee meeting Sept. 21, Hawkins said GuideStone, a nonprofit organization, is "closely monitoring" the congressional debate over the health care system. He acknowledged that insurance rates are "out of control" and that "something's got to be done" about it, but he expressed concern over Obama's proposals.

GuideStone isn't alone in its belief that denominational health insurance programs are in jeopardy, Hawkins said. GuideStone, he said, is part of a coalition of 32 denomination-backed retirement and health insurance programs.

"[The coalition met] about two months ago, and it was the consensus of every one of those denominations ... that if this program goes through that the president wants to go through, there won't be any of us that will have a health insurance program," Hawkins said. "You can't compete with somebody else who doesn't have to not just make a profit, but doesn't even have to break even [and] can print money and support it with your tax dollars."

Hawkins added, "I hear the president say you'll all be able to keep your insurance. The problem is [the insurance companies] that are providing it aren't going to be able to be there for you to keep it."

Hawkins called the debate over health care a "great crisis" and asked for people to pray for the situation.

He also said that while health insurance premium rates have skyrocketed nationally, GuideStone's average rates have decreased 6 percent in the last five years. He did, though, say there will be some increase this year.


Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.

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