Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 79th General Convention requests that the Church Pension Group make available at least two health insurance providers in each diocese; and be it further
Resolved, That in any diocese or area in which only one health insurance provider is available under the Church Pension Group Denominational Health Plan, and in which the availability of only one provider would have a material negative impact on the diocese’s employees, congregations, new recruitment, or overall well-being, that diocese will be permitted to seek other insurance options outside of the Denominational Health Plan.
The Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma moves that the bishops and deputies of the 79th General Convention require that more than one health insurance provider be available in each diocese.
Church Pension Group has announced that, as of 2019, the Episcopal Church Medical Trust will discontinue the offering of insurance plans provided by any carrier other than Anthem for the Denominational Health Plan. While the services provided by Church Pension Group are appreciated, it seems at times, that it is difficult to do what is best for all of the various Dioceses in the Episcopal Church at the same time. While some Dioceses could benefit from the limiting of providers to Anthem, some will struggle to provide suitable options for priests accepting calls and talented lay employees accepting positions in rural areas that already prove to be a recruiting challenge. In addition to hurting a variety of areas across the Church, there is some concern about how the decision was made, and how the change has been structured. This is specifically regarding the data, presentations, verbiage, and lack of discussions with Dioceses with a majority of employees not covered by Anthem, and general communication regarding the change.
When the announcement was made discussing the consolidation to offering only Anthem health plans in 2019, data was provided. The data was meant to explain the “disruption” or lack of “disruption” that would impact each Diocese. The data was built by Anthem, the corporation benefitting from this decision, not by the group managing and administering the Denominational Health Plan, Church Pension Group. A presentation of the data prepared by Anthem was provided to each Diocese in an effort to ease tensions regarding the move to only one insurance provider. In the presentation and in the data provided, the term “disruption” was used by Anthem and Church Pension Group employees. The measurement of “disruption” and the presentation of the measurement excludes any mention of those who would have to change doctors mid treatment. The data provided by Anthem also assumes that all of their In-Network providers are accepting new patients. Having to change doctors and not being accepted by a new doctor would be considered “disruptive” to the lives of those forced to change insurance providers. Both the data, prepared by Anthem, and the use of the word “disruption” in this situation seems misleading and manipulative. This could indicate a lack of due diligence and oversite, as well as general disregard for the impact this would have on many Dioceses, their congregations, institutions, and employees.
When the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma was presented with the 2019 upcoming change of only providing Anthem plans, and while this resolution was being written, one of the largest stories on the local news was regarding Integris, Oklahoma’s largest network of health care providers, possibly not renewing their contract with Anthem (known as Blue Cross Blue Shield in Oklahoma). Letters went out to patients of Integris regarding the possibility of no longer accepting Anthem. While this debate was going on between Integris and Anthem, the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma was told that the only option for the Denominational Health Plan in 2019 would be Anthem. Church Pension Group reported to the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma that they were not informed of the debate between Integris and Anthem, apparently not even by Anthem. This is concerning, because the group managing our health benefits, The Episcopal Church Medical Trust, is not staying informed of the industry issues as they pertain to Diocesan level administration of benefits. The Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma currently has 83% of employees covered by plans that are not Anthem. There was no call or survey to evaluate the impact this change would have on our employees. This leads to an overall question of how the decision to go exclusively with Anthem was reached.
The communication regarding the change has been limited to specific types of communications and events. There has not been clear comprehensive communication about the change in any Annual Report. Additionally, on the CPG website, the only mention of the change is buried in slide show presentations only available to administrators. There has been no direct communication to the employees who would be impacted by the change. This leaves each Diocese responsible for the fall out of employees scrambling to find new doctors, finding out the doctors In-Network in their area may not be accepting new patients, and trying to work with employees and families mid treatment for chronic, severe and terminal illnesses with this significant change in their ability to obtain affordable coverage. There has not been enough consideration regarding the impact of this change.
The Episcopal Church encourages its various Dioceses and congregations to grow in mission of the Church, and follow the Presiding Bishop’s call to be the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement. Decisions being made that hurt recruitment, devastate morale, and burden our Dioceses and employees cannot be the way of furthering the mission.
View Current Version