06 December 2011

Pastoral (and other) colloquium: health insurance

by Dan Phillips

From time to time, I've done posts aimed at the pastor. Here's another, though I think this may have a broader reach. Plus the other, longer post I have under development may produce a higher-maintenance meta than what I will have the time to devote today, so the timing is better for this one.

Pastors often serve as contractors, and not always (i.e. rarely!) for churches with staffs of five hundred. This makes health insurance a potentially dicey proposition. It could be argued that providing for family health care in some way is a subset of providing for one's own (1 Tim. 5:8), and that a church doing its best to enable a pastor to do so is part of treating the laborer as worthy of his wages (1 Tim. 5:17-18; cf. 1 Cor. 9:6-10; Gal. 6:8).

So, tell me, pastors — and my focus is American pastors — how do you handle health insurance? What do you do, how does it work, how do you like it?


Others who contract for other lines of ministry — or who have worked on pastoral compensation packages — and other work may have some input as well.

As I see it, it may well be that this meta will help both current pastors and our many seminary student readers who may soon be facing this brass-tacks issue.

So: do share.

BTW: if  you have suggestions for future similar gritty-details colloquia, email me at filops, then @, then yahoo.com.

Dan Phillips's signature

61 comments:

Robert said...

I worked on a compensation package for the pastor at our old church and we worked out an HSA account for him and covered his premiums, as well as including a contribution towards his health care expenses. It is a good option for the pastors and churches because it is untaxed and rolls over from year-to-year. Also, the account stays with the pastor after he is no longer the pastor...he can keep it and use it for health care expenses as long as he lives.

We also set up a 401(b) (I think) account to make contributions to a retirement account. Mainly, I had in mind that the pastor should have at least as much financial security provided by the church as most workers do from their employers. This also helps to free up the pastor to study, preach, teach, and shepherd the flock without worry over financial matters. I think most people don't really understand all of the complexities involved and how different it is for pastors than the average worker.

Jim W said...

Our church is part of the Christian Missionary Alliance, so that organization provides the health insurance, IRA type of benefits. Our church tithes to the CMA, so the pastor's benefits are paid for from that, along with the missionaries we support. It appears to be as good as any insurance coverage provided by any secular company. I know our pastor has no complaints with any of it.

Kerry James Allen said...

I started and pastor a small church that struggled mightily to keep up with the Blue Cross/Blue Shield monthly increases. Finally it was too much and we went with a Christian sharing ministry.
http://www.samaritanministries.org
This has not been a problem and we have been satisfied with the results. There are several ministries out there like this, but we feel Samaritan is the best. Also, there are probably at least a dozen Biblical principles that contribute to better health overall and make health care less necessary, but that would be an article for another day!

DJP said...

Terrific start, thank you. I always am really grateful when good, on-topic comments start off a meta.

So much of my experience is non-denominational that I forgot of that as one of the items in the "plus" column for denominational affiliation.

Chris H said...

I'm Canadian. The wise and benevolent State takes a large chunk of my income and provides second-rate health care "for free."

Whoops... I let my bias show.

Sam said...

I'm blessed to be in a situation similar to what Robert described above (church provides a HSA in addition to paying for family insurance, plus retirement). We are a small church but they have gone above and beyond to make sure my family is provided for. The church is non-denominational.

Chris Roberts said...

We have no insurance but hope to someday be able to afford it.

Tony Gulbrandsen said...

The church where I pastor provides me with a "total package" type of compensation. From that is my salary, housing, medical insurance, and retirement.

We are considering my bride taking a job that provides medical to offset the ridiculous costs of non-group health care.

DJP said...

So, Tony, do you buy your own? What do you do for health insurance at present?

Maybe, as others spread the word and participate, a good or better option will open up. That's one of my hopes, anyway.

Jim said...

I have been with Guidestone... the association for pastors in the SBC. However, their premiums keep going up so much (about $100 each year) that this year I am changing to a personal HSA through Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

You guys who have HSA's through the church... how did you get it set up so that a third party could pay the premiums? I was told that I had to pay them personally.

Tommy said...

I'm with Kerry James Allen. My family has been members with Samaritan Ministries for the better part of 6 years. We have had 2 babies and several trips to the ER on it. I find nothing to complain about. Switching off of regular insurance has saved me and my Church thousands of dollars every year. The bottom line for me is that I'd rather trust myself into the hands of Christian people who promise to help me pay for my bills than a massive corporation. There are risks no matter how you think of this issue but God has blessed and provided for all our needs as we provide for the needs of others through Samaritan Ministries.

It not only works, and is affordable at a mere $320 a month for my family, but I believe that it also honors God to share one another's burdens in this way.

Sam said...

Jim, we had no problem setting it up for the church to pay as a third party.

JR said...

We have an HSA paired with a major medical plan that has a super high family deductibe ($5,000).

Church pays 80% of our premium, and reimburses our HSA as needed (non tax).

For a while i was stuck with two plans because of an infant brain scan with one of my twin daughters. She ended up being perfectly fine, but she carried it as a pre-existing condition. That company's premiums were going through the roof so I changed four of us to a new plan and kept her on the old expensive one.

Then Obama saved the day and she was able to move over to the more economical plan with the rest of us.

If there were a way for a church to carry some sort of catastrophic coverage, and then just pay for medical expenses for clergy as they arise. I am almost certain it would be more cost effective than paying premiums.

ruddyman said...

My situation is similar to Robert's pastor in the first comment. I have volleyed between HSA accounts and other plans as I find I need to switch companies every couple of years to avoid exorbitant raises. Being young and healthy, we can do that for the present. Every year raises are to the tune of $25 to $100 more per month! So health insurance shopping has been an annual affair for us. We did try a Christian sharing ministry for a couple of years, but it was quite a hassle connecting the dots between the ministry and the providers, and providers became very impatient with the long time (regularly 8-12 months) it took to get payment.

Our current copay plan has a $5000 annual family deductible, and right at $480 per month premium for a family of four. Copays for doctor visits are $50 (well-visits no copay); specialists are $75. Everything else requires meeting the deductible.

The HSA plans I had were similar in price, though the discounts weren't as good, and of course you paid whatever the doctor asked up to your annual deductible (though we shopped around for docs that would charge less).

The bottom line is that healthcare is getting more expensive every year, and the better benefits are becoming more out of reach (lower deductibles).

fishformen said...

Sold my business in 1995 and got a big surprise at the cost to cover a Pastor and his family. I opted for the now defunct Christian Brotherhood, and then moved to Samaritan's Ministries. Though not insurance, it was much more feasible option.

The monthly cost for a family of 5, with no health issues and under 40, with conventional insurance was more than my monthly mortgage.

We have forgone many of the "needed" medical items and having been in this situation for many years. I now really question the insurance/medical out of control visits/diagnosis/mandates. By Grace we have remained in good care with few medical needs through the years.

Jason Parker said...

At the risk of being redundant, I'll just chime in for Samaritan Ministries. It is not insurance. It is a cost-sharing program, so it cannot be treated just like insurance. But to us it is far superior to standard insurance models in its costs and effects. My family and I are quite happy with it. I hope many churches will look into it.

Kerry James Allen said...

At the risk of incurring DJP's ire for stepping slightly out of bounds of the discussion, might we also be reminded of the Biblical mandate to seek the Lord first and not the doctors and insurance companies? Asa "in his disease sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians. And Asa slept..." 2 Chron. 16:12-13. We obviously have to run contrary to worldly thinking that laughs at the idea of a healing God and elevates doctors to the level of deity. I am not anti-doctor but every health issue should drive us to God first. In 1988 I was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia which from my understanding do not heal themselves. I don't know exactly when it occurred but after months of prayer it was removed with no surgery or drugs and I have had no problem in that area for 23 years and can eat anything with no discomfort. "Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me; and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise." Jeremiah 17:14. And before anybody gets nervous I am a 5 point Calvinist and an independent Baptist! Let us seek our God first in all of these decisions about sickness and insurance.

DJP said...

Not really that off-topic, but you'll pardon (I hope) a friendly yet glassy stare from someone whose wife's life was saved this year by God providing a series of good doctors, an excellent surgeon, a top-notch surgeon, and covering it all with excellent insurance so that we were not (as we would have been) financially ruined.

That does not exclude the truth of what you're saying; it's just another part of it, which I'm sure you are not meaning to deny.

Kerry James Allen said...

You will get no disagreement from me about anything Dan has said, and I was aware of the situation with Valerie. As with all issues there is a sane, sensible Biblical edge that we walk, hoping not to veer off to the left or the right. There is no denying that our mysterious God uses means in one situation and divinely intervenes in another. In all cases we give Him glory in whatever He chooses (and His choice is occasionally death, in answer to Jesus prayer in John 17:24).

DJP said...

Amen.

Suzanne said...

I think this is a particular struggle for smaller churches with limited resources. We had one church (reluctantly) pay our BCBS premiums and we were able to carry that policy with us when we left. However, the premiums rose exponentially over the next several years. We eventually migrated to an HSA, and our small church eventually took over the premiums (reimbursing us each month), but it was a struggle for our family to pay the out of pocket costs as they arose. After our struggling church dissolved due to financial burdens, we managed the premiums for awhile but eventually had to drop our coverage. My husband is currently looking for a church position, and I find myself wondering how the next church will handle this aspect of caring for their pastor.

Kory said...

As a CPA, I would warn that comments made by Sam and others might be running afoul of tax laws.

In order for premiums or payments made by a church to their pastor to be tax deductible, they have to be made under a umbrella of a group plan. This includes HSA funding as well. If the pastor simply has an individual or family policy, that does NOT meet that requirement of a group plan.

So, for example, if your pastor sets up a individual or family HDHP plan with a HSA option, any funds that the church either gives to the pastor or deposits into their HSA are not tax deductible. They would be treated by the IRS as additional salary with all the regular rules for such applying. I see charities ignoring this problem out of ignorance often, but in an audit, significant additional tax and penalties would be applied as a result.

Overall, the problem for small churches, as well as small businesses, is the high cost and administrative difficulty of setting up group health plans. Quite simply, for most organizations with just one or a handful of employees, they are not economical. The grouping of individuals in denominational plans or sharing ministries is the only legitimate way around this problem that I know of.

ObamaCare enacted some procedures for churches to get back refundable tax credits for medical payments (even though they pay no taxes), but they also are somewhat complicated and require filing tax returns to claim them.

Larry Geiger said...

Our Pastor and staff are under the Concordia Plan:

http://www.concordiaplans.org/

I guess that I thought that most everyone had something like this, but obviously not.

DJP said...

So we'd just have to, what... "swim the Mississippi"?

(c:

DJP said...

BTW, you pastors and all who are profiting from this might share some ratings-love. We've already had the usual DJP-hater weigh in.

Jason and Jodee said...

I’m a pastor of a small church in Washington. I’m the first full time pastor they have ever had on staff – the men before me were semi-retired and received benefits from other sources.

I am responsible for purchasing my own individual insurance policy. My salary compensation is broken up into salary, housing allowance and medical. The medical is completely tax free – it’s as though I don’t make that amount ($6,000/year).

That money doesn’t quite cover a LifeWise semi-catastrophic medical policy($3000 deductible) and similar grade dental insurance for me, my wife & 1 son. My wife turns 30 this week and so things are going up. I’ll turn 30 this coming March so we’ll probably see it go up again.

I am thankful to God that the people here have really gone above & beyond to provide for us. Insurance is just very difficult to negotiate – there never seems to be an apples to apples comparison. So I think this is best for us for now. We have control over what we do so hopefully that is an incentive for us to keep costs low (be as healthy as we can) while keep coverage as good as we can.

We also just decided to opt out of the self-employment double-tax in favor of simply investing that money in an IRA so that it will be there for insurance purposes (Lord willing) when we’re at retirement age. We thought it best stewardship to not just plan now, but plan farther down the road as well.

Sam said...

I appreciate Kory weighing in. In my case, the church isn't running afoul on the tax laws etc. The government get's their due from us, additions to my HSA are a part of the way my benefits and salary are set up and subject to the appropriate taxes, etc. Kory's right, you really need to make sure that someone with the appropriate knowledge doublechecks everything, it's easy to break the law unwittingly in matters like this.

Jim said...

Koury,

Thanks for the info. Am I reading you right about this: if the church makes any contributions to your HSA, then they are taxable too? I was under the impression that since $ in the HSA would only be used for medical expenses, that it would be tax free.

The reason I ask: Since we were changing to the personal ins plan, I was going to pay the premiums, and the church was going to contribute to the HSA what I had been getting as a benefit under the Guidestone (SBC) group plan.

Greg Linscott said...

We use MinnesotaCare, the state-subsidized program (http://goo.gl/YQEJe), though we pay a monthly premium for it. No one here has mentioned thata from what I have seen, but I do know from asking around (I have served in churches in Maine and Minnesota) that it is a fairly common thing, especially for small-church pastors. We found that for a family of my size that even a high-deductible plan coupled with an MSA was going to be cost-prohibitive to what we had to work with for compensation from the church. It isn't our first preference, but it is what the Lord has provided us with to take care of our family (wife and four kids). I was in an accident about 4 year ago now, and if I hadn't had that insurance (and my vehicle coverage), I'm not sure how it would have been covered. The airlift to the hospital alone was in excess of $40K, not to mention the skin grafts and plastic surgery I had done. I am grateful to the Lord that we have such an option available to us.

Kory said...

Jim,

I hate to tell you this, but yes, since you stated your proposed HSA is a personal account and not part of a group health insurance plan, therefore any payment to it by your church is not tax free and should be treated as normal income to you.

There are more and more businesses that set up HSA's for their employees as part of a group insurance plan, which is different and would not be income to those employees. But nearly all the pastors and small non-profit employees I have seen don't have group plans. They have individual or family policies, as is the case with you.

So from your church's position, they are merely taking some additional pay of yours, and directly paying it to the HSA holder instead of to you. But the tax effect to you is the same; it is taxed like regular salary.

Here is where there is a little good news. On your own individual tax return, you do have to include that HSA payment in wage income. However, you also get to take it as a deduction, even if you don't itemize deductions.

So I bet you are now saying, "Then what is the real difference, it is still tax free isn't it?". The answer is no it isn't, because there is self-employment tax in addition to income tax (unless you happen to have completely opted out of the SS system). As a pastor, you still end up paying self-employment tax on that HSA amount, even though you get to individually deduct it for income tax purposes. And in my experience, that is the real bane of small congregation pastors, since they often pay little income tax anyway (due to low pay and the housing allowance), but do pay the full 15.3% SE tax (albeit 13.3% this year due to the 2% payroll tax holiday).

I know there are a fairly large percentage of churches and pastors that are not following the law correctly on this. The odds of you getting audited and it being discovered are low. But as I said, if it is discovered, it will mean back taxes and penalties, since the law in this case is very clear.

Daniel Oliver said...

Across the big blue stripe to the right of you on the map lays England, FREE (i.e. paid for by far too high tax) healthcare, quality overall pretty good, and great need of re-evangelisation. Just a thought...
Daniel Oliver

DJP said...

Talking to me, Daniel?

I'll be watching my inbox for that invitation and support package proposal.

(c:

Sam said...

Jim,

Things can get complicated but let me encourage you that you can find a set up that works for you. In our situation we were blessed to have an insurance guy and the cfo of a small business helping us map out what would work best for us. We were able to find insurance that suited our family and an HSA payment plan that is both beneficial and doesn't kill us when tax time comes around. We're a "youngish" family so a small monthly deposit into our account from the church is sufficient (very few trips to the Dr. while building up the account) and doesn't increase my salary to the point of making things unbearable when tax time rolls around. I'll be the first to admit that tax codes and all that rot makes my head spin so it was a huge help to have input from people who know their stuff.

I don't know your situation but with some research you may find a set up which provides the coverage you need without killing you in April.

Sir Aaron said...

I don't have much to say. But much of what people need to know about the structure of health care plans for Pastors (and the taxability of premiums, etc) can be found here:

http://ssfoundation.net/pastors/?page_id=37

Just scroll down to the medical benefits section.

Daniel Oliver said...

Got me first shot. Most of the smaller churches have 'tentmaker' pastors here, perforce. But if we are ever in the position, good sir, we'll write a regular supply of teabags into your contract.
Humbly yours, you Americans may continue the serious discussion of the healthcare your Pastors need and should get. Their families too.

DJP said...

I figured our brothers across the pond and 'way up north would be dropping by. Always good to hear from you. Fam and I loved the three weeks we just spent in the UK, wish we could have figured a way to stay.

Jim said...

Thanks Kory,

That's very helpful information, though it's a little disappointing too.

Thanks for your pro-bono advice. I appreciate it as I'm sure others do.

DJP said...

Well look, Jim, everyone: I don't know Kory. I truly, truly am not disparaging him, but keep in mind that he's got an empty profile, and may be exactly what he says and may be something else.

So best to check with an in-person professional, and/or check the reference that Aaron gave, just above.

Kory said...

Absolutely good advice Dan which I should have added myself as individual tax situations can be very complex.

I take no offense.

DJP said...

Glad to hear it, none was meant.

(c:

Nord said...

If Kory is correct then we are not handling things properly either. Our church is sacrificing greatly to pay our insurance premiums. My wife is locked into her current policy because after two kidney transplants and cancer in-between, her pre-existing conditions prevents her going elsewhere. I and the two children who are still under our care are on another policy, but that as well is pricey. I have considered Samaritan's ministry but have not done so. We will certainly investigate the legality of what we are doing, but the bottom line is that we have a loving congregation that is struggling to meet our needs.

Sam said...

It is a blessing to serve a loving congregation, thanks Dan for a chance to brag on them :-).

greglong said...

I have heard some scary things about Christian sharing ministries like Samaritan, although I can't recall what and from where. Have others heard anything similar?

(How's that for a general statement and question?)

mikepettengill said...

As an Elder that once extended an invitation to a Pastor and as a missionary serving in a third-world country (no, not the U.S.) I think that those who serve us and our Father should not be punished for their choice to serve. We should compensate them fairly. No man should ever go into fulltime service to reep benefits, but we should insist that our fulltime servants of our Father and their families are not punished now by health costs or in the future by lack of retirement.

Kerry James Allen said...

In response to Greg about some bad vibes regarding sharing ministries, that would have been Christian Brotherhood a few years back, of which we were members. The leader evidently created a few problems, was ousted, and they re-organized. We are now in Samaritan Ministries which up until now has had a sterling reputation as far as we know. My wife and I pay $270 per month.

Kerry James Allen said...

Mike, having been a bi-vocational pastor and pastoring in smaller churches for 20 years, I think I can say that if many smaller churches had to come up with a full benefit package they would never get a pastor. I currently pastor a small but wonderful group of people but having just built a building the cold hard reality is that I currently make less money than I made in secular work 25 years ago, and have zero in retirement funds. The money just isn't there. As we paraphrased it to our kids as they grew up: "Having food and Ramen let us be therewith content!" Not much pastoring would get done in smaller works without a group of men that live by faith, with frugal contented wives (I am privileged to have one), and who occasionally have to work a job to feed their families. I salute them and if any are reading this, may they read Hebrews 6:10 and find encouragement. And may our gracious Lord give you cleanness of teeth (Amos 4:6) clothing and shoes that last longer (Deuteronomy 29:5) and a continual supply of miraculous manna from Heaven.

Morris Brooks said...

Well, as both a bi-vocational pastor and insurance broker, I can tell you that Kory is correct in his statements concerning the taxablity of individual HSA's. Also, (and I am not taking a shot at Samaritan Ministries here), but some of those Christian based health co-ops were actually set up as MEWA's under ERISA guidelines. If the employer (church) participates by enrolling its employee (pastor) in the plan, then the church is responsible for the claims of its employee should the MEWA go under.

Hopefully this will be considered on subject....Due to many factors, many of which are connected to Obamacare and Medicare, we can expect insurance premiums to go up considerably over the next few years. Understand that Obamacare was not designed to make healthcare more affordable or accessible, (it has actually done the opposite), but was designed to drive US healthcare to a single payer system and therefore give the government control over the entire healthcare system where all healthcare will be rationed from the very youngest to the very oldest.

For most pastors of small churches HSAs will be the most viable option over the next few years for their combination of cost and coverage, plus the ability to use the HSA account for glasses, dental, and other medical itesm not covered in the typical medical policy. Also, they can grow the HSA account into an addtional source of retirment income, and/or use it to purchase a long-term care policy.

Rev Jason Hilliard said...

I too use Samaritan's Ministries. I find it to be incredibly helpful in providing my families medical needs. The church I am at leaves it to me to cover the expense, but they provide me an allowance for it to compensate it.

The bottom line is that it is not unreasonable to expect a church to provide as much coverage as they can in this area. However, at the same time the cost simply is going so high that it is becoming difficult for smaller churches to maintain this benefit for their pastor.

We could speculate as to why churches can't afford it... everything from a hard economy to some not giving at all to misplaced funds in other areas... the spectrum is vast and different in every situation, some legit reasons and some not... bottom line, insurance premiums increase by such large amounts that corporations are even having a hard time keeping up...

Scott Bashoor said...

I pastor a very small church that pays for a portion of my insurance. I have the balance taken out of my paycheck, and the church writes a check for the entire monthly ammount. We had a personal policy with Blue Shield, but premiums were going through the roof. We switched to Kaiser last year, and that's been a very good experience for us.

Sir Aaron said...

Kory and Morris: I tried to contact you privately, but you had no email listed. Please email me if you have the time. I have to some concerns over a couple technical tax points and would like to chat with you privately to see if I can figure out where the misunderstanding is.

Thanks

Robert said...

Wow...reading through all of this and then thinking back through it all just made me realize something I had forgotten. We went with and HRA because the HSA a)was taxable and b)had to be offered (with the same contribution) to any employee of the church. The HRA has to be used up within the year and doesn't roll over, but the contribution is not taxed.

I wanted to find a way to make the HSA work, but it just wasn't a good option for a small, non-denominational church. I think that the plan worked out well for the pastor, though...he seemed pretty pleased with the package and how it addressed his needs. and it also worked well for the church, so it was a win-win situation.

Sir Aaron said...

Robert: I've never heard of (A) so I'm checking it out. I'm actually going to check with an external source and I'm going to call somebody at the office, if you catch my drift. I don't think your (A) is correct so long as (B) is true.

Health care expenses are usually "tax exempt" meaning they can be paid with by pre-tax dollars so long as it paid through an HRA or FSA (except for premiums which can be paid directly).

Robert said...

OK...yeah, reading from that website (which is what we used when we put this together), the HSA only has the benefit of being able to carry from church to church or even after you retire. The HRA is tax-free, can be used to pay premiums, and must be offered to all employees who work more than 30 hours.

The main thing I would check on is if the new legislation affects whether you can use the account for non-prescription medications or any other constraints it may have put on the use of an HRA.

It is amazing how much one can forget in two years...that's why the website is such a great resource.

mikepettengill said...

I would venture to say if Christians actually tithed (10% minimum) and supported ministry and made major scarifies to do it...like downgraded their satellite/cable package, used a dumb phone, lived in a house that was less than 500 sq. ft. per person, sold their SUV and went with the 30" plasma instead of the 50"...pastors and missionaries wouldn't have to sacrifice as much as they do.

The unfortunate reality is pastors and missionaries often do not have HMOs, retirement accounts or decent salaries. That is primarily because sacrificial giving is not important to most Christians.

Most pastors and missionaries don't get into their job because they are seeking to make money or desire financial security...quite the oposite...but, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't take care of them.

Tim Bushong said...

I am tri-vocational, but went for years with no insurance at all, paying for any bills in cash. But... that just wasn't wise in the long run, so now I buy from a friend in the insurance business. Inexpensive care, high deductible, and we're covered in case of a catastrophe.

Almost went with 'Samaritans', but their 'absolutely no tobacco use' policy was just too much...

And yes- our Church pays most of our premiums.

Robert said...

The main thing I hope is that people in churches make this a top priority and that they actually review things with their pastors on a regular basis. A lot of things can be shifted around and managed to help the pastor without doing anything sketchy. I certainly had no idea about everything involved until I had to work on a compensation package for the pastor at our old church.

Anna said...

I guess we're in the minority. My husband pastors a small church in a small denomination (Associate Reformed Presbyterian). The congregation pays the premiums for the BCBS group plan of the denomination. It's astronomical ($14K for a family), but I can't imagine what we would have done without it (a month in the NICU is a quarter of a million dollars). The cost is offset somewhat in that there's no need for a housing allowance because we live in the mortgage-free manse.

theologshmeolog said...

Dan,
good topic. I am a church planter with a rather small church to shepherd at this point. My wife works to supplement any support which the church can offer, and which I receive from churches who are friendly to our work. We buy insurance from a major carrier which requires me to have a $5000 deductible, but they pay 80% of major medical expenditures. It means we do a lot of out of pocket stuff, but it also means we are more careful about our health and how we spend "health-based" money. My wife just recently had a rather significant surgery, and so far the Insurance Provider is doing what they promised--and the hospital and surgeons have done the same. With "pay-the-remaining-balance-in-full" discount from the Medical provider, our final cost will be much less than the flat 20% that is the "raw" difference once the Ins. Prov. pays their 80%. The costs are still significant, but I expect them to be--she received prime care. Our typical struggles are finding ways to keep costs down in the day-to-day stuff. I find any Christian discussions which lean toward some kind of socialization to be nauseating. We are not wealthy, but we are able to pay our honest portion. I do not expect others to pay for it, other than how I might benefit from having others purchasing insurance through the same company I do. God is good in that such medical providence is available to us at the cost we pay. Our monthly Ins. bill is $300+. BTW the Kindle version of World Tilting helped put me to sleep while I stayed at my wife's hospital room a couple nights--JK. Am enjoying it and have recom'd it for others.

Sam Hendrickson

TruthStands said...

Just another shout out to for Samaritan's Ministries. We pay the $320/mo for our family of five, and are saving thousands upon thousands a year. They setup is very well thought out, and as far as the complaint about no tobacco use, you just have to ask yourself whether your tobacco is worth thousands of dollars a year, not to mention the cost of the tobacco itself, plus the health cost.

Imagine all the money saved which could go toward other fruitful things (kingdom work, retirement, etc.) all at the simple cost of no tobacco.

The prayer support you receive from Samaritan's Ministries network is a huge blessing.

There is a downside for pre-existing conditions, so that may stop you right there, DJP, but check it out!

DJP said...

Nord, if you're still monitoring (or if anyone knows him), please email me. I'd like to talk to you about what you said.

filops, then @, then yahoo.com.

Thanks.

Sir Aaron said...

All:

I've been really busy too and haven't had a chance to followup. Basically, the rules are:

If you are an employee for Federal income tax purposes, the church can pay for your health care pretax (this means you get a W-2 at the end of the year not a Form 1099 for your Pastoral pay). One more caveat: The church must offer the same type benefits for all employees that work full time (more than 30 hours).

I still need to make a couple phone calls to verify, but I've reread all the IRS regulations and publications so I feel pretty confident in my opinion.