50 more registrants needed before October 15 deadline.
“At this point we’re optimistic we will have a plan that will be effective January 1,” said Jim Sargent of the UUA’s Health Plan office. “But this is not a time to be complacent and wait for others to come forward. If you’re interested in the plan this is the time to sign up.” The plan is open to employees of Unitarian Universalist congregations as well as UUA staff, including district staff. If enough employees enroll the plan will be certified by the UUA Board of Trustees at its October meeting and will take effect January 1.
The plan would be the first UUA-sponsored health insurance plan in eight years and would make affordable health care possible for many employees of congregations for the first time. “A fair number of employees of congregations have no insurance at all,” Sargent said.
Many have not been able to get health insurance because they could not afford it or had no group plan to join. Others are paying extremely high amounts for individual policies and would like to find a cheaper alternative. About 165 congregations are represented in those who have signed up to date.
Congregations do not have to enroll every employee, just those who want the coverage. Employees can sign up independently online. Congregational boards do not need to vote to join the plan. All staff working at least 1,000 hours annually are eligible.
Sargent emphasized that the insurance plan will be operated as a UUA “health plan trust” for the benefit of congregations and will be managed separately from other UUA funds. The health plan trust will be an employee benefits trust established under the laws of Massachusetts, and will also be a tax-exempt voluntary employee beneficiary association (VEBA). The enrollment campaign has been underway since May.
The plan details can be reviewed at www.uua.org/leaders/insurance. Call Sargent at 617-948-6405 with questions, or email him at healthinsurance [at] uua [dot] org ( healthinsurance [at] uua [dot] org).
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Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.