Are retirees being dropped from health plan coverage with the Louisiana Conference?

No.  The Board of Pensions and Health Benefits, at the recommendation of the Healthcare Task Force, is proposing a new retiree health benefit plan designed to be effective January 1, 2020.


If a retiree elected not to continue with medical coverage after retirement, can they opt back in to the proposed plan?

Yes, eligible retirees can choose to be a participant in the proposed plan.  The eligibility rule of having participated in the Louisiana Conference Active Clergy Health Plan for a minimum of two years immediately prior to retirement date will be applicable.


Will there be a vote for the proposed plan?  If so, when?

Yes, there will be a vote by clergy and lay delegates at the 2019 Annual Conference in June in Shreveport when the CBOPHB presents their report.


Why is there a proposed change to the retiree health benefit at this time?

In order to honor the commitment of providing access to health care benefits to retirees, options had to be looked at for providing a lifetime benefit and selecting the best offering.  Reports indicated that the money allocated to retiree health benefits would run out in 5-7 years if nothing were done.


Is the Woolworth money still earmarked for retiree health benefits?

Yes, the Woolworth funds are designated by CBOPHB for retiree health benefits. But unfortunately, there are not enough funds to cover the long term liability for this long term benefit.


Will a spouse, covered as dependent on current lay plan, be able to remain as a participant on the lay plan?

Yes, there will be no changes at this time to the Conference active and lay plan, and covered participants and dependents will remain on this plan, but not as a dependent on the proposed retiree plan.


Will proposed plan coverage benefits be the same as current and include dental and vision?

You will be able to select the plan (a Medicare supplement or Medicare Advantage plan) that best fits you, whether it be similar benefits or something different; and you will be able to select a dental and vision plan, along with your medical benefits. 


Will a retiree have to elect the proposed subsidy arrangement using Via Benefits or can they received a subsidy and purchase a plan of their choice?

Retirees will be required to enroll with Via Benefits in order to receive the Health Reimbursement Arrangement and be eligible for the Catastrophic Prescription Drug plan, if needed.


How will the Catastrophic Drug Health Reimbursement Arrangement grant work?

Beginning in the year 2020, participants will have a $1,200 HRA subsidy, plus the savings from the $299 per month premium (total of $3,588 annually), for a total of $4,788 to pay for all types of out of pocket medical costs. These costs could include Medicare plan premiums, co-payments, and routine and recurring drugs costs. Based on an individual’s health situation and prescribed medications, each retiree will be guided to a “best fit” Part D pharmacy coverage plan through the implementation process with Via Benefits.


All Part D pharmacy plans have 4 categories of coverage. Our health care experts have projected that most Conference participants will incur an average of $2,402 or less of out of pocket costs in the first 3 categories covering most routine and recurring drug costs. Some members may incur more or less than $2,402 as that is the average before reaching the 4th stage of Part D “Catastrophic Coverage”.


The proposal’s Catastrophic Drug HRA grant is designed to help those participants who reach the 4th stage of coverage which requires 5% co-payments of an individual’s pharmacy or drug costs. In the “Catastrophic Coverage” stage, participants will need to first meet a $500 deductible before the Catastrophic Drug HRA grant becomes available. Grants can be made up to $7,000 per person per year to assist with the 5% co-payments. The experts estimate that only a few participants may actually need to apply for a grant.


Why can’t we raise the premiums and continue with the current plan?

The CBOPHB has increased the retiree health premiums annually by the maximum allowed of 5%, but the increase still isn’t enough to cover the claim expenses incurred.

What if the proposed plan requires future modifications?

The Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits (CBOPHB) is planning to monitor the impact and results of the new plan should it pass at Annual Conference. Further, if the design of the proposed retiree health benefit plan necessitates modifications, then the CBOPHB is committed to making changes to the extent resources are available. If a health situation occurs that creates an extreme financial burden for a retiree that goes beyond the projected outcomes under the new plan, then the retiree is encouraged to reach out and discuss the matter directly with the Conference Benefits Office


Will there be detailed information available for review prior to the vote at Annual Conference?

Yes.  There will be many forms of communication:  emails, letters, brochures, district meetings, the Louisiana Conference Website at, and an information table at Annual Conference.


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