Occasionally, I open the pages of the blog to reader to present information that I think may be of great value to many of the readers. At my suggestion, reader Steven Sarff has written a post describing one means by which ministers can obtain group health insurance even though their home congregations may not offer health benefits.
I only know Steven through the blog, but I know that many ministers serve in churches that are too small to adopt a group health insurance plan. Finding a good plan could be a great help to many of our ministers, and so I greatly appreciate Steven’s post —
I wanted to share something that I believe can be of help to many. My name is Steven Sarff and I preach for a small congregation in Bastrop, Texas and work as an insurance agent as well. When I first started in health insurance, I thought it would be a good idea to call on my fellow preachers and offer my services.
What I found out was that a significant percentage of preachers were unable to apply because of preexisting conditions. How unfortunate that their wives might work ‘just for the insurance’ or that they enrolled in inexpensive ‘pseudo’ health plans that don’t cover the costs for major surgeries, etc.
I wondered at the time if it wouldn’t be possible to start a group health plan that ministers of the gospel could participate in. Group insurance plans (some larger congregations have this for their staff) grant automatic qualification if you are in the group. Of course, in the business sector, the employer pays 1/2 the cost at least. But still, even paying the full amount would be good if the plan included major medical.
It turns out that I didn’t have to try to reinvent the wheel. Someone has already done this. Those who are “compensated employees” in the churches of Christ can apply for major medical health insurance. The plan was set up and is administered by the Disciples of Christ. It is open to all congregations which belong to the Stone/Campbell Restoration movement. The website where you can go to for information and applications is www.discipleshealth.org. Of course, participants pay the whole monthly premium, but they qualify, and that is important.
Please note that this is open to “compensated employees,” which does allow a certain latitude. Secretaries, paid elders, janitors, etc. also would qualify. It does not require full-time employment.
As an insurance agent, I like to pass this on to preachers when I find a need exists and let them contact the plan for themselves. I don’t receive compensation for this, and so, if you call, there is no need to mention my name at all.
Another thing worth noting is that group plans are not for everyone. The plans are good, but the choice of deductible is limited. If you can buy an individual plan, you may be able to find lower prices than with the group plan, especially if you are in excellent health. So contacting an agent who sells personal health insurance to compare prices would be a good idea. Of course, I would be able and willing to help you. In most states, I can do health and life insurance with a little planning ahead. In Texas, I also do property and casualty insurance for homes, businesses and church buildings.
If I can’t actually provide the service, I am still open to being a source of information for those in the church. Please let this information be spread around to those who can use it. Some may not need it, but knowing that it exists will allow them to pass it on to others too.
I can be contacted via email at Stevensarff(at)yahoo(dot)com or phone 512.704.4438.