Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland is one of a growing number of EPC churches taking “another look” at the EPC Medical Plan in light of the implementation of the Contraceptive Mandate in the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). The Contraceptive Mandate requires that all medical plans provide contraceptives and abortifacient drugs, such as the “morning after” pill. As a self-funded church plan, the EPC Medical Plan is exempt from implementing this mandate. For churches that want the medical coverage of their staff to align with our strong biblical position on abortion, the EPC Medical Plan is now very attractive.
In December 2012, the Session of Fourth Presbyterian Church launched a review of its current medical plan for church staff and the potential impact of the Contraceptive Mandate. It reviewed Fourth’s 1994 position on abortion as well as the EPC’s Position Paper on Abortion. Senior Pastor Rob Norris (photo right) said, “The Session made a moral decision that we would not support abortions. We were looking for a moral alternative that did not hurt our employees.” Fourth’s leadership also contacted other evangelical and Reformed churches in the Washington, DC area. They found that some churches had renewed their medical plans for 2014 without being aware of the impact of the Contraceptive Mandate. Others had not yet begun to focus on this issue. Fourth’s conclusion was that it was ahead of most churches in grappling this issue.
Fourth’s Session reviewed a whole series of options, including the EPC plan. At its September 9, 2013 meeting, it decided to move all church staff into the EPC Plan. Rob said, “Fourth is deeply grateful the EPC medical plan is a viable alternative that affirms our moral position and provides great value to our employees.” He added “We are astounded that there is no interruption to the network of providers our staff previously enjoyed.” Following is the action Fourth took on September 9: “In order to eliminate the possibility of including any believed-to-be abortifacients in the health insurance plan provided to Fourth Presbyterian Church staff, while still offering benefits comparable to the existing CareFirst Plan, the Ad Hoc Health Committee recommends to Session that the Personnel Committee select the EPC Medical Plan for 2014. Fourth Church leaders should make every effort to: (1) minimize any negative impact on staff with respect to out-of-pocket expenditures; and (2) ensure access to substantially the same network of providers.”
More information about the EPC Medical Plan can be found on the benefits documents page or by calling an EPC benefits administrator at (877) 578-8707 for general topics or the EPC claims administrator at (866) 472-0928 for detailed questions.