WELS Benefit Plans announced that the VEBA health plan rates are increasing by two percent for 2019; this is a significantly lower increase than initially projected. Over the past three years the VEBA health plan rates have increased by an average of 6.6 percent, and budget forecasts are usually estimated at around ten.
A two percent increase is far better than expected, says Mr. Joshua Peterman, director of Benefit Plans. He explained that in today’s market, cost increases for many other employer group health plans have been in the five to eight percent range over the past few years. Rate increases for many health insurance plans available to individuals, such as those on public exchanges, have recently been ten percent or higher.
Peterman says one major factor in the lower-than-expected increase is better utilization of benefits by members. “We want to pass that savings back to the local ministries in the form of a lower increase,” he says. As VEBA members use medical care more efficiently and are, in general, healthier, the reduced health care costs are shared throughout the synod.
With the rate increase lower than planned for, it is the hope that calling bodies that use WELS VEBA will find a bit of a budget surplus that could be reallocated for ministry or other local needs. As an example of savings, for a family plan in Wisconsin, the difference between a two percent increase and a ten percent increase ranges from approximately $1,500 to $2,200 per year.
Peterman says, “It’s a blessing to be able to provide reliable, comprehensive medical coverage for our workers across the country so they can focus on their ministry and sharing the gospel. Providing this coverage at rates that are stable over time and as low as reasonably possible allows us to support calling bodies and help them achieve their ministry plans.”
This fall, VEBA will hold a limited open enrollment from Nov. 1–30, 2018. Eligible called and lay workers at calling bodies already participating in VEBA will be able to either enroll in or change their benefits.
To learn more about WELS Benefit Plans and WELS VEBA, visit welsbpo.net.
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