Continually increasing health care costs have meant increasing health insurance premiums for many CHHSM members. Crossroad Child & Family Services in Fort Wayne, Ind., found a solution for its employees through the Pensions Boards — United Church of Christ.

Several years ago, Crossroad had been faced with the difficult decision of removing spousal coverage and other health care benefits from its insurance offering due to mounting costs. Financially, it could not continue to offer the same coverage it had provided in the past.

“Crossroad had been self-insured for many years, and it worked well for us,” says Kyle Zanker, chief development officer, “until the claims started going up rapidly. [For example,] our annual cost proposal for 2020 was up by more than 21 percent over 2019.”

The rising costs and subsequent decrease in benefits, including spousal benefits, severely impacted the staff. “It was a huge financial blow when we lost spousal coverage,” says Jeff N., a case manager at Crossroad. “With the cost of living increasing, unexpected repairs, and kids who just can’t seem to stop getting bigger, finances [were] pushed to the breaking point … When you make too much for assistance, but not enough to pay the bills, stress is inevitable.”

Such stories were common. Crossroad’s leadership knew that they needed a better insurance option for staff: one that would increase benefits and lower Crossroad’s costs.

“As a CHHSM member, one of our first thoughts was to look at the UCC’s resource ministries, specifically the Pensions Boards insurance plans,” Zanker says. “These plans were much better than the other plans we explored.”

Pension Boards staff responded quickly to Crossroad’s needs. “Frank Loiacono [director of health plans] and all of the Pensions Boards contacts we worked with were so nice and helpful,” says Zanker, and they made the switch happen quickly. For Zanker, working with the Pension Boards is “one more way in which the church and Crossroad live out covenant with each other.”

“We picked the plan that best helped us reduce the cost to staff and to the organization, and the plan that would encourage the most employees to choose coverage,” Zanker adds. “The plan allowed us to announce to staff that their contribution to their insurance would be lower in 2020. This plan also allowed us to offer plans to spouses/partners once again.”

Randall J. Rider, president and CEO of Crossroad, finds the new plan to be beneficial to everyone. “Converting to the UCC Pension Boards health plan helped Crossroad in two important ways,” he says. “It allowed the agency to significantly reduce the agency’s premium costs so we could re-invest dollars saved into helping kids and families. Secondly, employees are thrilled to have lower deductibles and lower premium costs for equal or better medical benefits. It was like giving employees a raise that didn’t cost us anything!”

From Jeff N.’s perspective, the new insurance plan is a Godsend. In a thank you letter he sent to the executive team, human resources, and Crossroad’s board, he wrote, “God saw fit to bless us with our fourth child in March. This can’t be overstated: we had no idea how we were going to pay for the costs. But I’ve always believed that God provides both challenges and solutions; we need only trust and believe. So when you approved this plan, you helped answer our prayers.”

Using the UCC health plan was made possible thanks to CHHSM’s resource partners, says Zanker. “We are grateful for this opportunity as a covenantal ministry of the United Church of Christ.”