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Significant changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as health care reform, will change the way many Americans obtain their health insurance beginning in 2014. In response, Portico Benefit Services has worked with ELCA leaders to revise the ELCA Philosophy of Benefits in order to offer additional benefit options as well as sustain and enhance ministry over both the short term and the long term.

To preserve the long term value of a church-sponsored benefits plan, 2014 ELCA-Primary health benefits are expanding from one option to four, corresponding to the four categories offered in the health care exchanges. In order to address any concerns regarding the implications of health care reform on rostered leaders and congregations, the Synod Council of the Slovak Zion Synod has joined other synods and the ELCA Church Council in endorsing the continuation of health benefits at the current level as the standard for congregations, organizations, pastors, and other rostered leaders. In other words, since the current level of Portico benefits most closely resembles the new Portico Gold+ option, both the Synod Council and the ELCA Council recommend that congregations select Portico’s Gold+ health benefit option because it offers plan members out-of-pocket costs most similar to today’s benefits.

In addition, the ELCA survivor benefits are being modernized into more conventional life insurance that enables members to purchase supplemental coverage. Portico will also suspend disability contributions for one year, due to the strong financial position of the ELCA Disability Benefits Trust. (This means you won’t make a contribution for disability benefits in 2014.)

What does this mean for Portico plan members and their congregations? Each congregation and plan member(s) will need to make new, important benefit decisions and enter them online during this fall’s 2014 Open Enrollment.

Upcoming Key Dates to remember:

Sept. 16 – Oct. 14: Congregations select one health benefit option

Nov. 1 – 22: Members enroll in, or waive, health and additional benefits

In the meantime, watch for additional information and materials from Portico as plan designs are further finalized.