DALLAS (BP) -- As employers nationwide -- including most churches -- prepare for 2014, the year that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act becomes more broadly implemented, questions are understandably arising from pastors, business administrators and church personnel and finance committees.
"... Both Democrats and Republicans are putting politics over the needs of pastors.
-- O.S. Hawkins
O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources, said the Southern Baptist entity is intent on maintaining its role as an advocate for church plans in general and for pastors and others in ministry it serves specifically.
"Since the enactment of ObamaCare in 2010, GuideStone has been focused on addressing the impact of this law upon our pastors and others serving churches and ministry-related organizations," Hawkins said. "In fact, we continue to be at the forefront of advocating for pastors and others in ministry as the impacts of ObamaCare unfold. That remains a top priority here at GuideStone and is a multi-faceted endeavor."
Pastors and churches must address four main concerns as they look to re-enrollment for 2014:
1. whether they will provide coverage for their employees or put them in a position of having to obtain coverage on secular exchanges.
2. how exchange plan benefits and total cost of coverage, including out-of-pocket expenses, exchange taxes and fees, will compare with their existing coverage.
3. whether, if they use a secular health plan provider, they will be subsidizing objectionable contraceptives, including abortifacients.
4. whether their health plans meet applicable health care reform limits and rules.
Health care exchanges
Under the health care reform law, health care exchanges -- or marketplaces -- were to be set up in all 50 states. Many states elected not to do so, meaning the federal government must establish them in those states. To date, 24 states have, or are working to, establish state-run or federal-state partnership exchanges. The remainder will have federally run exchanges.
Despite a deadline of Oct. 1, 2013, to establish these exchanges, even at this late date much is unknown. Subsidies available to eligible individuals and families (e.g., those with a taxable household income around $62,000 for a family of two, $94,000 for a family of four, etc.) who seek their coverage through a health plan on an exchange may lower the out-of-pocket and/or premium costs, but the reality is that many exchanges may only offer limited provider networks, including fewer choices of doctors and medical facilities. ... Read More