Health Insurance for Ministers

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 –

Hi All:

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.

Avatar of Jay Guin

About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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6 Responses to Health Insurance for Ministers

  1. About the time I began working with Eastern European Mission four years ago, they were adopting this plan administered by the Disciples of Christ for their full-time employees. Since I am “retired” and on Medicare, I do not have personal experience with this plan. As far as I know, the full-time employees of EEM (I am part-time) still use this plan, as do some other Church of Christ institutions.
    Jerry Starling

  2. Todd Collier says:

    Just a nudge of encouragement. Some of you may know but I have been battling with cancer since mid-July. The fight is going extremely well and next week I receive a PET scan which I have every reason to believe will be clean. Prayers to that end would be appreciated.

    In the main my medical bills for the past three months – and we are still counting – top $150,000. If it were not for health insurance I would be heading towards bankruptcy. I know that many of us try to ignore this aspect of life or assume that God’s has other plans for us, but the truth is that everyone will at some point get sick and being a minister increases your chances in certain ways due to stress or the studious lifestyle.

    Sacrifice if you mjust but get the insurance necessary to protect your family. One week in CCU will eat up ten years of average premiums and I write this as an experienced minister, not anyone in the insurance business.

  3. Mark says:

    “If it were not for health insurance I would be heading towards bankruptcy”

    I think this also speaks to where we are at in the country.

  4. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Todd,

    Thanks for your note. Delighted to hear that you’re on the road to recovery!

  5. Clint says:

    Just wanted to add an alternative to the discussion. After our family health insurance plan kept increasing yearly, and ended up over $800 per month (family of three with maternity), we had to do something different. We did some research and found some Christian-based insurance alternatives. Most of them work through escrow accounts that you pay a “premium” into each month, and then get reimbursed for medical expenses.

    They do tend to operate a little differently when it comes to deductible: ours is $500 per incident. If I break an arm, then get strep, then have heart problems each of those will have its own $500 deductible.

    The up side is that we are only paying $450/month, and that is the same for every family of 3 or more (unless you have like a bajillion kids, and then they adjust in some way for that). Plus, that $500 deductible can be waived entirely if we negotiate a discount of $500 or more.

    Which brings up another difference with this type of program: we are our own insurance company, basically. We have to negotiate discounts and payment plans/options, etc. The program we use does offer a service to help with this, especially with very high bills.

    Anyway, check out the website if you are interested: http://www.chministries.org/

    And feel free to email me with questions: coffeyvillecofc@sbcglobal.net

    by the way…I don’t receive compensation for this, either……although we can get one month free if you mention my name when signing up :)

    Clint

  6. Clint says:

    Let me also add that this is not the only option out there that operates like this…….check around for what is available.

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