When the latest phase-in of Obamacare rolled out last summer , I discovered that church plants could no longer have employees each get their own family plan and then get reimbursed by the church. [UPDATE 2018: a new law allows churches to reimburse once again] So church plants were left with 2 options: offer no insurance at all, or enroll in SHOP, which is Obamacare for church plants (and other small employers).
I’m continuing to learn through this, but it looks like it may be a good option for church plants with more than 1 employee.
Cafeteria of Choices
If you’ve ever worked full-time in corporate America, at least until recently you were probably offered a menu of choices for your health and dental insurance. During your ‘open enrollment’ period each year you’d choose from different levels of insurance with different price tags from different insurance companies. So maybe you chose a lower-cost HMO plan but the next employee wanted the more expensive PPO that allowed them to choose any doctor they wanted to see.
In my own experience, employers required the employees to share in the cost of the insurance. They’d pay a fixed amount and you paid the difference: a little less if you went with the basic coverage and a lot more if you wanted a more expensive plan.
Obamacare for Church Plants
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) requires employers with more than 50 employees to provide such a plan to their employees. But it also created its own ‘cafeteria plan’ that smaller employers could use to offer their employees similar coverage to what those big guys offer. Instead of making each employee fend for themselves, your church plant could offer a group plan through the SHOP website.
The Small business Healthcare Options Program (SHOP) has a few requirements:
- If the church signs up, it must offer coverage to all full-time employees (anyone who works 30+ hours per week)
- 70% of those employees offered coverage must participate or be covered by another job, through a spouse, or by the government (Medicare)
- The church would pay some or all of the cost of the plan, but based on a few qualifying factors, the church may be eligible for a tax credit to help offset the cost of the insurance.
How to Find Rates
Rate quotes are based on so many custom factors that you can’t get a quote without getting significantly down the road in applying. I hit enough roadblocks using hypothetical data that I wasn’t able to complete the process. So if you want to get a quote:
- Apply at the Healthcare.gov website (it will redirect you to your state’s marketplace if your state has one)
- Find a local insurance broker who can take your application (you won’t pay more for this)
some helpful links I found: