Frequently asked questions about retiree health insurance through the conference.

Do I have to enroll in the conference retiree health plan that is provided by the Board of Pensions?
No, you can find your own plan but you would not be eligible to receive a clergy subsidy. 

Can I purchase dental insurance only?
Yes, during open enrollment you can purchase dental coverage. Contact the Board of Pensions office for premium pricing.

Can I purchase vision coverage only?  
No, the vision plans are sold as additional coverage for Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente only. 

Do I have to be retired to enroll in the conference group health care plan?
In most cases, yes. If you are eligible for group employer coverage (i.e the active plan), Medicare believes that you should participate in that plan since Medicare would not be the primary insurance. If your church has fewer than 20 employees, the Board of Pensions can apply for an exception; however, there is no guarantee that it will be approved. The employer (e.g. the local church or conference agency) could be fined for not providing group health coverage to an eligible employee. 

When should I apply for Medicare?
That depends on a few different factors. You can apply for Medicare Part A (hospital coverage) up to three months prior to turning 65. Medicare Part A is free. You should apply for Medicare Part B up to three months prior to your actual retirement. Part B has a premium, which is generally taken from social security checks. Failing to apply for Medicare Part B at the right time could lead to fines but that does not mean that you have to apply for Part B just because you are turning 65. As long as you are covered on group employer plan, you can apply later during a Special Election Period (SEP) without penalty. Go to medicare.gov or contact the Board of Pensions for more information.

What is an enrollment period for Medicare?

  • Initial Enrollment Period - Everyone should enroll  Must be chosen if you do not have access to a employer health plan within three months before or after your 65th birthday. 
  • General Enrollment Period - If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period, you can enroll every year between January 1 - March 31.
  • Special Enrollment Period - If you are covered by your plan or your spouses employer group health plan, you can enroll once that coverage ends. This may require proof of coverage. 

Can I add my spouse to my retiree plan at a later date? 
During Open Enrollment of f there is a qualifying event such as loss of coverage, you can add your spouse BUT your spouse must be on your health insurance at the time of your retirement in order to be eligible for the subsidy. 

I am a surviving spouse but I never enrolled in the retiree plan, can I enroll now?
Unfortunately, surviving spouses must be enrolled prior to the death of the clergy member in order to be eligible for our plan.

Is there a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) that helps with cost of deductibles and/or co-pays? 
Currently, there are no HRAs or HSAs for the retiree accounts.

What is my primary insurance?
On all of the retiree health plans that the Board of Pensions offers, Medicare is the primary insurance and either Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente, or UnitedHealthcare serves as the secondary.  

Why can't I enroll in Kaiser Permanente if I live in a state other than California?
Kaiser Permanente is composed of separate organizations in various regions. We are contracted with Northern California with a special inter-regional agreement with Southern California because the Conference has churches in both regions.