Churches pinched by health care costs

Health care may soon eat up missions dollars
Unlike many other pastors in the Church of the Brethren, Kendal W. Elmore stuck with his denomination’s medical insurance plan for 34 years, even as premiums escalated.

The 60-year-old pastor from Toledo, Ohio, says he was told that the higher costs made health care more affordable for older and less healthy Brethren pastors.

“I felt I needed to be loyal to the Brethren plan,” he said.

But as other pastors fled for cheaper insurance plans, participation in the Brethren Medical Plan plunged 78 percent between 1993 and 2007, according to church leaders. “People were not hanging in to help the plan,” said Randall Yoder, director of insurance services at Brethren Benefit Trust.

At the denomination’s Annual Conference last summer, when reports carried the message that the active-ministers portion of the plan was in a “death spiral,” delegates voted to kill it.


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