We know that the proposed change will have the employing church (or other employing organization for those or us in validated ministries) billed at 19% of effective salary. And we known that some members—those with dependents—will be required to pay a monthly premium above and beyond the 19% that’s billed to the church/employer. (This is in lieu of raising everyone’s dues to 25(ish)%, which is the flat across the board percentage needed to cover rising insurance costs.)
Those are the things we’ve known. But without a real-world breakdown that includes just what this extra monthly premium would be, what could those of us with dependents do but have general misgivings?
Well, if you’ve been worried about this, prepare to have your misgivings specified.
This afternoon I received a spreadsheet—a spreadsheet anonymously given to a colleague, and probably with good reason—that breaks down the new costs that will be passed on to plan members with dependents.
Quite frankly, it’s reprehensible. Here’s why.
You will negatively be affected if:
You and your spouse are covered, and you make less than$55,000 per year.
You and your children are covered, and you make less than$45,400 per year.
You and your family are covered—now here’s the really reprehensible part—and you make less than $95,000 per year.
That’s right. The more you make, the less the Board would have you cover on your own; the less you make, the more the Board would have you cover on your own. Sound backwards? It is.
You will only be charged a monthly premium if your effective salary is below a certain threshold–and the farther below that threshold your effective salary is, the more you pay.
The Board would have a single-income family, with a member who is paid their presbytery’s minimum (or even less), pay more out of pocket than a pastor at an affluent church, whose family is likewise covered, but who receives a salary of over $100,000.
I have more thoughts about this, but I’d like this post to remain family friendly. So instead…
Here are the details in narrative form with two hypothetical situations:
(The BOP loves using these to explain things, so why shouldn’t we?)
Say there is a recent seminary graduate who has followed Christ’s call to Podunk Presbyterian Church of Backwoods, New York. (No, this isn’t me. I serve in a nice little college town, in a validated ministry beyond the bounds, as we say.)
PPC, being a small rural congregation, can only afford a part-time minister (we’ll be generous and say three-quarter time), and they offer a total effective salary of $36,567 (again, we’ll be generous for sake of argument).
Now we’ll say this minister has a spouse and child, and said spouse does not have benefits through his/her job—or more likely is currently looking for employment because their family has relocated to follow Christ’s call—so, naturally, the minister adds his/her spouse and child as dependents.
According to the spreadsheet, said minister (or said minister’s church, depending on their negotiated terms of call) would berequired to pay a premium of $414 per month for his/her family’s medical coverage in the proposed dues structure. (That’s $4,968 a year, or an additional 13.6% on top of the flat 19%, meaning the church and pastor combined pay the BOP an amount equal to 32.6% of the effective salary.)
Now let’s say there’s a minister who has served for a number of years and has followed Christ’s call to Largetown Presbyterian Church in Well-to-do, Washington.
LPC, being located in an upper-middle/upper class suburb in an affluent part of the state, offers a total effective salary of $100,000.
Just like the minister in Situation A, the pastor of LPC has a spouse and child who are dependents on his/her medical coverage.
According to the spreadsheet, said minister (or said minister’s church, depending on their negotiated terms of call) would berequired to pay a premium of absolutely nothing per monthfor his/her family’s medical coverage in the proposed dues structure. (That’s $0 a year, or an additional 0% on top of the flat 19%, meaning the church and pastor combined pay the BOP 19% of the effective salary.)
If you make: $36,567, then you pay: $414/month ($4,968/year), and you and your church pay: 32.6%
If you make: $100,000, then you pay: $0/month ($0/year), and you and your church pay: 19%
Speaking of, that reminds me of joke:
No, really, there’s no one serving our churches because they can’t afford to. Or they’ve left because the support structure has changed to care more about the top tier than the least of these and that’s not a church they want to be a part of.
Either way, I guess that’s not really funny, is it? I don’t think so. And I also don’t want that to be the future. I love the PC(USA). For all of it’s faults, I love our denomination, and I’ve seen it do wonderful things. This is not one of them. This is the opposite.
Is this leaving a sour taste in your mouth? I hope so. But don’t just fume in your head, or to your family, or even to your congregation. First, go back to the top and follow the link to the petition. But then, make contact, seek clarification, ask why such a decision is being made that hurts rural and poor and struggling congregations and plan members (and their families) while asking nothing of larger and more affluent congregations and plan members.
Remember, this won’t officially be voted and approved until March. So if you’re concerned, let them know.
Board of Pensions Regional Representatives
Ernesto Badillo, Representative for Synods of the Trinity, the Covenant, and Boriquen Clayton Cobb, Representative for the Synods of the Southwest and Southern California and HawaiiMark Frey, Representative for Synods of Alaska-Northwest and the PacificKevin Keaton, Representative for Synods of the Sun and the Rocky MountainsHelen Locklear, Representative for Synod of the Mid-Atlantic and part of the Synod of Living Waters (KY, TN)Allison K. Seed, Representative for Synod of the NortheastT. Clark Simmons, Representative for Synod of South Atlantic and part of the Synod of Living Waters (AL, MS)Position Currently Vacant, Representative for Synods of Lakes and Prairies, Mid-America, and Lincoln Trails