GuideStone health plans available amid ACA flux

DALLAS (BP) -- Inaction by Washington on reforms to the Affordable Care Act has led to much uncertainty for those in the health care exchanges created under the 2010 law.

GuideStone Financial Resources is prepared with options for churches looking to help their pastors and staff members obtain health care coverage for themselves and their families.

In many counties around the United States, only one option is available on the state or federal exchanges, and in some places it is possible there will be no options by the beginning of the year.

"GuideStone has offered health coverage benefits to Southern Baptist churches and their employees for over half of our century of service," said Scott Charbonneau, managing director of insurance plans.

"With the uncertainty in the health care marketplace, GuideStone seeks to be a stable, competitive solution for churches and ministries we are privileged to serve, both in the Southern Baptist Convention and in the greater evangelical community," Charbonneau said.

GuideStone is increasing access to individual plans and group products, including GuideStone's personal plans, microgroups -- for churches with as few as two employees -- and group plans for larger and medium-sized churches and ministries.

"Churches from single-staff member congregations to multi-campus megachurches with hundreds of employees have options available to them through GuideStone's health plans," Charbonneau noted. "If you have had trouble finding a health care solution or are looking for additional options, GuideStone is here to help."

GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said serving the "pastors at the crossroads" -- those who serve far from the limelight but serve faithfully among the people God has called them to shepherd -- is foundational to the work GuideStone does each day.

"Those smaller churches that find themselves trying to navigate the complex realities of our nation's broken health care system have an advocate with GuideStone," Hawkins said. "Not only are we committed to providing solutions for pastors and churches of all sizes, but we are committed to doing so by offering benefits in line with our shared Christian beliefs and values."

While medical inflation, claims experience and the continued uncertainty in the health care industry brought on by inaction in Washington continue to impact rates, GuideStone has worked to control health insurance rates -- average rate increases for personal plans are 8.8 percent and for group plans are 7.5 percent -- with more than half of all groups seeing rate increases of 2 percent or less.

Churches interested in learning more about the solutions available to them should call 1-844-INS-GUIDE (1-844-467-4843) or visit www.GuideStone.org.

Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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