Your Questions Answered

Plan Member Q&A

Question

What is YMPE and how does it relate to the new benefits plan and eligibility?

Answer

YMPE stands for Yearly Maximum Pensionable Earnings and is set annually by Canada Revenue Agency. This is the limit of earnings on which contributions can be made to the Canada Pension Plan each year. GSI uses YMPE as a way to determine eligibility for the ELCIC pension and benefits plans. This marker was chosen as it is updated annually and set independently of GSI. Our policies require that employees earn at least 25% of YMPE for plan membership. This minimum threshold will remain the same when the redesign takes effect.

Question

How does housing allowance fit into the eligibility calculation?

Answer

GSI uses “Salary Basis” as a defined term to establish eligibility. Salary Basis includes base salary and housing allowance. We realize that clergy have the option to deduct the value of their residence from income to calculate income tax and Canada Pension Plan contributions.  This is unrelated to the ELCIC pension and benefits plans eligibility formula. GSI’s policies do not use taxable income for eligibility.  

ELCIC Group Benefits Plan Redesign 2021

The ELCIC Group Services Inc. Board of Directors would like to thank everyone who took time to participate in the health redesign survey and attend the consultations. Your engagement in the process and your thoughtful comments speak to the importance placed on being a part of the ELCIC Group Benefits Plan design review.

New Modular Design

The Board considered the survey results and comments, together with the discussions held at the consultations, and determined that changes could be made to the redesign in consideration of this feedback. These changes (i.e., a new modular design) will maintain the goal of adding flexibility, while mitigating the risk to the plan’s sustainability. The Board hopes the redesign will address concerns expressed on the initial redesign proposal.

The new design will offer three modules for selection: Blue, Green and Teal and will be implemented on January 1, 2021. Please review the information provided here to learn more.

Blue, Green & Teal Chart

Modular Design

The new design will offer three modules for selection: Blue, Green and Teal. A summary of coverages in each module is outlined in the chart below, and will be implemented on January 1, 2021.

Benefits Chart Active Members- BGT with comp

Changing Modules

Changing Modules

Can a plan member change their module selection after the initial January 2021 choice is made?

Yes! There are times when a member may change their module selection.

  1. When there is a life event, a member may choose any other module. Eligible life events are:
  • becoming a parent or when a dependent is no longer eligible as they attain age 21 or 25 if a full-time student;
  • a change in marital status
  • a change in co-ordination of benefits (i.e., your Spouse either gains or loses their employment health benefit plan).

Note: that the request for change must occur within 31 days from the event.

Certain events will not qualify; some examples are: becoming disabled or starting a new Call at another participating employer (member needs to continue in their previous selection when benefits are reinstated).

 

  1. Annual re-enrollment on January 1st, where members can make a new selection to move to an adjacent module.

Members should also be aware that their claims history will be carried forward. This means that benefits with coverage maximums that are greater than one year such as vision care (24 months) will not reset with the redesign nor when a different module is selected at a later date.

Communication Archives

Letter to Plan Members - June 25, 2020

Letter to plan Members June 25, 2020

 

The ELCIC Group Services Inc. Board of Directors (“the Board”) would like to thank everyone who took time to participate in the health redesign survey and attend the consultations. Your engagement in the process and your thoughtful comments speak to the importance placed on being a part of the ELCIC Group Benefits Plan (“Benefits Plan”) design review.

Redesign Survey and Consultation 

The strongest message that came from the health redesign survey and the consultations was the great appreciation for the Benefits Plan. Over 90% of participants indicated that the Benefits Plan was a very important part of the compensation package. This importance was underscored by the number of plan members who make claims on a regular basis and also the frequency and thoroughness with which plan members read the newsletters and benefits information available on the website.

A variety of suggestions were made regarding possible improvements to the health plan; all were studied by the Board when considering changes to the redesign. Recurring messages included: (1) addition of a health care spending account or other flexible options, and (2) need for travel insurance for working plan members age 65 and up. The aspect of the redesign that was most criticized was the need to meet an earnings threshold in order to require employers to pay premiums for enhanced benefits.

The survey comments and consultation conversations indicate that there may not be a consistent understanding of what is meant by the reference to ‘sustainable’ and the concern that sustainability might be at risk. The Board has determined that sustainability, in the ELCIC’s context, means managing costs to keep the Benefits Plan affordable for the congregations, which are currently paying 100% of the premium. Based on industry trends and developments and our own Plan’s usage, the Board recognizes that premium rates could rise to a level where many congregations would have to forgo having a paid pastor, due to the associated costs of offering a Benefits Plan. This concern is of vital importance going forward, especially in light of the opening comments around the value of the plan.

The Survey Results Report is available for those interested in more details.

 

New Modular Design

The Board considered the survey results and comments, together with the discussions held at the consultations, and determined that changes could be made to the redesign in consideration of this feedback. These changes (i.e., a new modular design) will maintain the goal of adding flexibility, while mitigating the risk to the plan’s sustainability. The Board hopes the redesign will address concerns expressed on the initial redesign proposal.

The new design will offer three modules for selection: Blue, Green and Teal. A summary of coverages in each module is outlined in this chart, which will be implemented on January 1, 2021.

 

Eligibility

All employees earning at least 25% of Yearly Maximum Pensionable Earnings “YMPE” before deductions (in 2020, that is $1,223 per month; 2021 slight increase TBA) meet the eligibility requirement for membership in the Benefits Plan. All members will be automatically enrolled in the Blue module. If the plan member’s spouse also has a health and dental plan, coverage will be coordinated. Under the redesign, all eligible employees will receive at least the Blue module, with no option of waiving.

The minimum eligibility is the same for the Green or Teal modules.

Non-rostered plan members are no longer required to meet an hours test. Eligibility will be determined solely by salary for all plan members.

 

Enrollment

Plan members may choose to enroll in any of the three options at the implementation of January 1, 2021.

After initial enrollment, plan members may elect to change their option at the following times:

  • when there is a change in marital status
  • when there is a new dependent
  • when there is change to coordination of benefits with a spouse’s plan.

A form will be provided prior to the effective date for plan members to indicate their choice.

 

Premium Payment

The employer is required to pay 100% of the premium for the Blue module. If a plan member selects the Green or Teal module, the premium difference can be paid either by the employer or by the plan member, or it can be split between both.

The cost value of the Green module is the closest option to the current plan design. Therefore, while covering the cost of the Blue module is the minimum required of ELCIC employers, the Board encourages employers to fund the premiums for the Green module, especially for the full-time pastors and long-time employees.

GSI will invoice the employer based on the selection made by the plan member. Premium differences for Green or Teal modules that are not covered by the employer must be administered by payroll deduction.

More information and details will follow in upcoming newsletters. Please contact the GSI office if you have any questions.

Thank you,

ELCIC Group Services Inc.

Survey Results Report

Survey Results Report

 

ELCIC Group Services Inc. (“GSI”), in its role as Benefits Plan sponsor for the ELCIC Group Benefits Plan (“Benefits Plan”) regularly monitors each of its components. As part of this process, the Board of Directors (“the Board) regularly receives and reviews statistical reports detailing how members are using the Benefits Plan, as well as financial information in terms of how the Benefits Plan is running. Adjustments are regularly made to the Benefits Plan contract and design, based on this process.

Background
Approximately every five years, the Board undertakes a detailed look at the Benefits Plan, which might include comparison to the external market, a more in-depth review of utilization information, and consideration of how the Benefits Plan fits into ELCIC’s organizational and compensation philosophies.

The journey into examining the health and dental components of the Benefits Plan began in early 2015, with an educational presentation on the pharmacy landscape. This presentation provided the Board with insight into this rapidly changing and growing industry, which accounts for the majority of claims paid by the Benefits Plan. The Board then looked more closely at ELCIC’s claims trends and the related premium rate increases over the past decade.

Based on this research, and with the assistance of benefits consultants, the Board began to explore options to update the Benefits Plan’s health and dental components, in order to incorporate features that could provide greater flexibility, while also addressing fiscal responsibility. Ensuring that the Benefits Plan will be sustainable into the future was identified as an important guiding principle to this process.

To this end, the Board put forward its ideas for updating the Benefits Plan in October 2018. Some Benefits Plan members and congregations provided feedback to these suggestions, and because members indicated that they consider the Benefits plan to be a key component of their compensation, the Board felt that it was important provide a greater opportunity for feedback. To achieve this, GSI sent out a survey and held a series of consultations.

Survey
On December 16, 2019, Benefits Plan members (299 Rostered and 121 Non-Rostered) were sent a survey with benefits-related questions, as well as a brief section to collect basic demographic information. In the end, 34% of Rostered and 22% of Non-Rostered Benefits Plan members completed the survey.

At the same time, 347 employers subscribing to the Benefits Plan were sent a survey with benefits- related questions and a brief demographic section. 28% of employers completed the survey.

We sincerely thank all survey participants for their time and thoughtful comments. In the next section, we are pleased to provide an overview of what we heard from Benefits Plan Members and employers.

You may download the full Survey Results Report here.