The Pennsylvania Attorney General recently filed legal action to extend an agreement allowing Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield members to obtain care from all UPMC providers on an in-network basis beyond June 30, 2019. This action is the latest development in an ongoing dispute between Highmark BCBS and UPMC.
If you have benefits through the Board of Pensions, you could be affected if you access your medical benefits through Highmark BCBS and use a UPMC provider in western Pennsylvania. The situation could change based on the court’s decision.
The Employer Agreement season for PCUSA churches to choose their medical benefits for staff for 2020 is from July 15 to Oct. 11. Any pastor, spouse or child concerned about coverage could consider switching their coverage to Aetna, which is only offered to the churches in the 27 counties west of Harrisburg.
If a church chooses Aetna medical (which they will see as a medical option in Benefits Connect when they fill out their Employer Agreement), they should understand that ALL employees at that church must go with the same medical coverage if receiving it from the Board of Pensions. (All employees need to be covered by Aetna or all covered by BCBS, meaning the pastor cannot be in Blue Cross Blue Shield BCBS and the other employees if buying coverage from the BOP be in Aetna.)
According to Doug Portz, a representative of the Board of Pensions whose coverage area is the Synod of the Trinity (except for the Presbyteries of Donegal and Philadelphia), there is no difference in the cost for choosing Aetna for installed pastors in Pastor’s Participation, but for other employees on the menu options the cost will be about 6 to 7 percent higher because the Aetna medical choice is a smaller network compared to the BCBS national network.
More information on this situation is available here.