By Roy Hayhurst
DALLAS — Churches and ministries that reimburse their employees for individual health coverage may soon find themselves facing stiff penalties of up to $36,500 per employee, per year, under the federal health care law commonly known as Obamacare, as a grace period expires June 30. The penalties on employers who maintain employer payment plans were to begin in January, but the IRS granted a six-month reprieve.
Organizations that offer GuideStone health plans are not at risk of these penalties. GuideStone’s health plans — both its Personal and Group Plans — are church health plans and are considered group health plans under federal law and thus are not affected by these penalties.
“Fortunately, GuideStone health plan participants and the churches and ministries that employ them can rest assured that they can continue to pay for coverage as they have in the past and meet the guidelines under the current law,” said Donna Lively, managing director of insurance plans at GuideStone Financial Resources. “Organizations that don’t utilize GuideStone should consult with their legal and tax advisors to determine how to comply with the letter of the law.”
GuideStone has updated its popular resource, Reimbursement Vehicles and the ACA: Impacts for Employers. It is available free online at GuideStone.org/HealthReform/ReimbursementVehicles.
GuideStone has developed new health coverage solutions that may be appropriate for smaller churches. Additionally, churches with only one employee can apply for coverage for that lone staff member during the employee’s first 60 days of employment. For more information on how GuideStone may help churches with their health coverage needs, call 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433).
GuideStone encourages churches and ministries to remain vigilant about the Affordable Care Act and the related administrative policies that can create significant challenges for churches.
“This is just one of the myriad challenges facing all Americans, but especially churches and ministries thanks to the health care reform law,” said GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins. “While we continue to wait for Congress or the courts to provide relief, the churches and ministries we serve can remain confident that GuideStone will advocate for them with legislators and regulators and will provide useful information to help them comply with this law.”
GuideStone has made available resources on its website to help churches and ministries understand the health care reform law and its requirements on employers and employees. More information can be found at GuideStone.org/HealthReform.
Roy Hayhurst is department head for denominational and public relations services at GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.