Category Archives: EPC Medical Plan

EPC Benefit Plan participants may be included in Blue Cross Blue Shield antitrust settlement


A settlement on behalf of individuals and companies that purchased or received health insurance provided or administered by a Blue Cross Blue Shield company may include participants in the EPC’s medical/prescription drug plan. The settlement is the result of a class action antitrust lawsuit, In re: Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Litigation MDL 2406, which is pending in a U.S. District Court in Alabama.

Bart Francescone, Executive Director of EPC Benefit Resources, Inc. (BRI), said the BRI office has fielded a number of inquiries regarding communication from JND Legal Administration in Seattle, Wash, regarding the settlement.

“Many of our medical benefit plan participants have recently received notice from a third-party entity identified as JND Legal Administration on behalf of Plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the national Blue Cross Blue Shield Association of companies,” Francescone said, noting that the Plaintiffs in this case are affected plan participants, and the Defendants are the Blue Cross Blue Shield companies.

“It is a legitimate notice, and those harmed by BCBS’ alleged violation of antitrust laws may be eligible to receive a payment as a result of the settlement,” he said. “If someone was enrolled in our plan and had medical claims anytime between September 1, 2015, and October 16, 2020, they likely received the notice and may be entitled to a settlement payment.”

Francescone added that BRI and its provider for the EPC medical/prescription drug benefit plan, Highmark BCBS, are not involved in the settlement process.

“BRI has no information about how eligibility is determined, or the settlement amounts,” Francescone said. “In order to be bound by the settlement and potentially receive a payment, you must log into the settlement website, go to the claim form, enter the unique ID that came with your email notice or postcard, and file a claim by no later than the fifth of November.”

The settlement website is, which includes detailed information about the lawsuit, who is involved, and instructions on how to file a claim. For further questions, JND Legal Administration can be contacted at, or 1-888-681-1142.

Anyone who was enrolled in the EPC’s medical/prescription drug plan during the settlement class time period and wants to file a claim may need the following information when completing the claim form:

  • Health plan name: Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • EPC Group No: CQM363
  • Member ID: On the participant’s medical ID card
  • Coverage start/end dates: Provided by the participant’s church or employer

“We hope this guidance is helpful to our participants who may be eligible to file a claim,” Francescone said. “The resources provided in the notice and on the settlement website should be able to answer any questions.”

Open Enrollment for EPC Benefits now underway


November is Open Enrollment month for EPC Benefit Resources, Inc., (BRI), which presents an opportunity for churches to enroll their staff or make changes to employees benefit plan coverages. The 2021 Open Enrollment website provides information on the EPC’s five medical/prescription drug plans; dental, vision, and life insurance benefits; and other health offerings. Comparison charts, individual plan details, and changes—as well as premium rates for all plans—are easily accessed. All enrollment or coverage changes made during Open Enrollment become effective January 1, 2021.

During open enrollment:

  • Churches can enroll in EPC benefit plans for the first time.
  • Currently covered individuals can make changes to their benefit elections for 2021.
  • Churches can add to, or change, their plan offerings for 2021 by completing a Benefits Election Form.
  • If enrollment and plan selections are not being changed for a current participant, then no action is needed. Under this “passive process,” all will automatically retain their current coverages for 2021 unless they actively initiate a change.

Bart Francescone, BRI Executive Director, said premium rates for the 2021 medical/prescription drug plans are increasing by an average of 3.6 percent.

“This is the lowest increase in many years, and it follows last year’s low increase of only six percent,” Francescone said. “The BRI Board of Directors and staff have worked hard in partnership with our plan administrators to maintain our high-quality plans at the lowest possible cost. This has enabled us to keep our increases significantly lower than the national weighted average medical cost trend, despite so many uncertainties related to COVID and the national healthcare landscape.”

Premium rates for the dental plans and life insurance are unchanged for 2021. In addition, premium rates for the 2021 vision plan are eight percent lower than the 2020 rate.

“We are replacing EyeMed with National Vision Administrators, which has resulted in lower premiums and added benefits,” Francescone said. “These include reducing the co-pays for many lens options and providing coverage for both contacts and eyeglass lenses. Previously, participants had to choose one or the other.”

He added that NVA has more than 94,000 participating providers nationwide, including major retail eyecare chains, discount providers like Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club vision centers, and thousands of private practitioners. Current vision plan participants will be enrolled with NVA automatically and receive a welcome packet in December.

All EPC benefit plans are available to full-time employees (30 hours or more per week) of EPC churches, as well as World Outreach global workers, chaplains, and EPC ministers serving out-of-bounds or without call.

“Anyone new to the EPC—or interested in enrolling in one of our benefit programs for the first time—should contact the individual who handles benefits at their church or organization,” Francescone said. “And as always, BRI staff members are happy to answer any questions someone may have about our programs.”

For more information about the EPC’s 2021 benefit plans, contact BRI at 407-930-4492 or, or see

EPC Benefit Resources, Inc., announces waiving of co-pay for coronavirus testing, new smartphone app for text-based primary care physician visits


BRIlogoFollowing White House guidance, EPC Benefit Resources, Inc. (BRI) has made arrangements with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield to waive the normal co-pay costs for coronavirus (COVID-19) lab tests when prescribed by a physician. The co-pay waiver applies to participants in all five Medical/Prescription Plans offered by BRI: Platinum, Gold, Gold HDHP (High-Deductible Health Plan), Silver, and Bronze HDHP.

“I am very pleased that Highmark worked with us to get the co-pays removed for coronavirus testing,” said Bart Francescone, BRI Executive Director. “The situation is so prominent in the news and on social media, we want our Plan participants to be able to know if they are affected without any additional burden. Also, we want them to be able to have peace of mind without having to worry about an unexpected expense.”

Francescone noted that the co-pay waiver applies only to the coronavirus test. All normal office visit co-pays will still apply.

Coinciding with heightened health concerns, BRI has expedited implementation of 98point6, a text-based primary care app for smartphones and tablets. This new benefit begins Saturday, March 14, and is provided to all EPC benefit plan participants.

Through 98point6, a U.S.-based, board-certified physician is available by text 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is provided with no co-pay for participants in the Platinum, Gold, and Silver PPO Plans, and only a $5 co-pay for participants in all other benefit plans.

Francescone said the BRI Board of Directors had earlier approved this new benefit to be announced and put into place in April, but pushed its release earlier in light of coronavirus concerns.

“Given the current situation, we knew we needed to make it available as soon as possible,” Francescone said. “I hope our plan members will take advantage of 98point6 when they have questions about episodic care, diagnosis, prescriptions, or other medical questions. I think it will be a useful tool for their health care—as well as for their covered family members.”

For more information about 98point6, see To register, see the one-minute video at www.

For more information about the EPC benefit plans, see

EPC Benefits Open Enrollment set for November 1-30


2020OpenEnrollmentFBO.jpgNovember is Open Enrollment month for EPC Benefit Resources, Inc., (BRI), which presents an opportunity for churches to enroll or make changes to benefit plan coverages provided to eligible employees. In addition, the Open Enrollment period introduces the EPC’s 2020 Benefit Plan offerings, plan changes, and premium rates. All changes made during Open Enrollment will be effective January 1, 2020.

  • Eligible individuals can be enrolled in the EPC Benefit Plans for the first time.
  • Changes can be made to an eligible individuals benefit selections for 2020.
  • Churches can enroll in EPC Benefit Plans for the first time.
  • Churches can change their Plan offerings for 2020.

New for 2020 are enhancements to the current Disability and Life Insurance offerings, as well as a new provider for the Dental Plan.

  • Short-Term Disability. Long-Term Disability (LTD) insurance can be augmented with Short-Term Disability insurance, which will pay a percentage of an employee’s salary for up to 90 days (beginning as soon as the 8th day after the date of a disability), after which LTD payments take effect.
  • Supplemental Life Insurance. Participants covered under the EPC’s existing Life Insurance benefit can purchase additional coverage up to $150,000 (in increments of $10,000), and also can purchase coverage for their spouse and dependents. Adding additional Life Insurance coverage will not require a physical exam or medical screening questions if existing participants add the coverage during Open Enrollment.

“These two options are voluntary,” said Bart Francescone, BRI Executive Director. “Churches can choose to offer them to their staff and have the premiums paid by the church, or by the employee through payroll deductions.”

Delta Dental is the new plan administrator for the EPC’s Dental Plan, replacing Principal. Current dental benefit participants will be automatically transferred to Delta with coverage effective January 1, 2020. Francescone said Delta offers “a much larger network of dentists, additional coverages, and lower out-of-pocket expenses to the participant.”

He also noted that the EPC benefit plans are available to all full-time (30 hours or more per week) employees of EPC churches, as well as Chaplains, ministers serving out-of-bounds, and various other categories.

“Anyone new to the EPC—or interested in enrolling in one of our benefit programs for the first time—should reach out to whoever handles benefits at their church regarding their interests,” he said.

Francescone explained that Open Enrollment is a “passive process” for current participants, meaning those already enrolled in the EPC benefit plans will automatically retain their 2019 benefit elections unless they choose a new plan or decline an existing coverage for 2020.

For more information about 2020 benefit offerings, see, or contact the EPC Benefits Administration Office at 877-578-8707 or

BRI Board of Directors examines benefit and retirement plans outlook


BRIBoardMeeting201909At its fall meeting, the Board of Directors of EPC Benefit Resources, Inc. (BRI) examined a variety of topics, including the financial performance and growth of the Retirement Plan, enhancements to the Wellness and Care Management programs for 2020, claims and trends in the 2019 Medical Plan. The group also discussed several cost mitigation strategies.

The Board met September 12 at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando.

Actions taken by the Board included a 33 percent reduction in the fees charged by Fidelity to participants in the EPC 403(b)(9) Retirement Plan, and holding an increase in the Medical/Prescription Drug Plan rate increase to an average of six percent for 2020.

“Over the past year, we have been aggressive about cutting costs while maintaining high-quality service levels to church administrators and plan participants,” said Bart Francescone, BRI Executive Director. “That effort is paying off through reductions in fees charged to retirement plan participants, and a medical plan rate increase for 2020 that will average only six percent. That is actually below national healthcare cost increases, and is our lowest increase in many years.”

Francescone also said that “aggressive negotiations” with providers for the EPC dental, vision, life, and disability insurances has resulted in premiums for 2020 remaining unchanged from 2019 rates.

The Board also received a report from Merrill Lynch—the EPC’s medical reserve fund investment advisor—on U.S. and international economic and investment performance outlooks, as well as recommendations for fund investment asset allocations. In addition, the independent actuarial firm Milliman presented a report with recommendations for premium rate actions and reserve fund asset levels.

Members of the BRI Board of Directors are Ron Horgan (Chairman), Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic; Michael Busch, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Alleghenies; Robert Draughon, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Central South; Jim Lewien from the Presbytery of the West; Michael Moore from Presbytery of the Central South; Erik Ohman, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the West; Bill Reisenweaver, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean; Randy Shaneyfelt from the Presbytery of the Great Plains; and Sandy Siegfried from the Presbytery of the Great Plains.

EPC BRI Board reviews financial position, plans for 2020 and beyond


The EPC Benefit Resources, Inc., Board of Directors met at the Office of the General Assembly on February 27. Members of the Board are (from left) Erik Ohman, Michael Moore, Robert Draughon, Bill Reisenweaver, Kim Ray, Bart Francescone (BRI Executive Director), Randy Shaneyfelt, and William Barnes. Also attending but not pictured were Michael Busch and Ron Horgan (Board Chair).

Meeting in Orlando February 27, the EPC Benefit Resources, Inc. (BRI) Board of Directors addressed a variety of topics related to its oversight of the EPC’s retirement plans, group medical plans, and other benefits offerings.

Among other items on its agenda, the Board reviewed BRI’s 2018 and 2019 financial status, discussed current and possible future ways to improve participants’ physical and financial health, and began deliberating on 2020 benefit plan offerings.

The board also heard presentations from representatives from Merrill Lynch, and the Orlando-based CPA firm, Batts Morrison Wales & Lee.

Members of the BRI Board of Directors are Ron Horgan (Chair), TE from the Presbytery of the Midwest; Will Barnes, RE from the Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes; Mike Busch, RE from the Presbytery of the Alleghenies; Robert Draughon, RE from the Presbytery of the Central South; Michael Moore from the Presbytery of the Central South; Erik Ohman, TE from the Presbytery of the Midwest; Kim Ray, RE from the Presbytery of the Pacific Southwest; Bill Reisenweaver, TE from the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean; and Randy Shaneyfelt from the Presbytery of the Great Plains.

BRI is staffed by Bart Francescone, Executive Director; Rebeca Santana, Benefits Administrator; and Caroline Swanson, Benefits Assistant. For more information on BRI, see

November 1-30 is EPC Benefits Open Enrollment


BRIlogo-96dpiRGBNovember is Open Enrollment month for EPC Benefit Resources, Inc. and the time of year when the 2019 benefit offerings, plan changes, and rates are introduced. All changes made during open enrollment will be effective January 1, 2019. Open enrollment is the annual enrollment period when churches and eligible individuals can enroll in the EPC’s Benefit Plans:

  • Eligible individuals can enroll in the EPC Benefits for the first time.
  • Eligible individuals can make changes to their benefit selections for 2019.
  • Churches can enroll in EPC Benefits for the first time.
  • Churches can change their employee offerings for 2019.

Bart Francescone, BRI Executive Director, said changes have been made to certain Medical and Prescription Drug Plans so participants should review the 2019 Plans before making selections for next year.

“Open Enrollment is a ‘passive’ process, meaning you will automatically retain your 2018 benefit elections unless you actively chose a new plan or decline an existing coverage,” he said. “Make sure you have completed all that is required by the submission deadline of November 30 so your coverage will continue uninterrupted as of January 1, 2019.”

Individuals currently enrolled in the EPC Benefit plans may contact their church administrator, Clerk of Session, and/or those overseeing the implementation of terms of call for information on the benefits offered by their church.

For more information, see or contact the EPC Benefits Admin Office at 877-578-8707 or

Bart Francescone named Executive Director of EPC Benefit Resources, Inc.


Bart Francescone

Following a nationwide search, Bart Francescone of Cream Ridge, N.J., has been named Executive Director of EPC Benefit Resources, Inc. (BRI). He fills a vacancy created when the BRI Board of Directors elected to relocate operations to the EPC Office of the General Assembly in Orlando, Fla. Current Director of Benefits Don Voyles declined an offer to move to Orlando, and completes his work with the EPC on October 31.

“Don has served the EPC with distinction for almost four years,” said Phil VanValkenburg, EPC Chief Operating Officer. “Largely through his efforts and expertise, EPC Benefits is in a much better place than it was in 2013. We look forward to Bart building on the great foundation Don has set for us.”

Francescone comes to the EPC from Heartland Fidelity Insurance Co. of Washington, D.C., where he served as Chief Operating Officer. He previously was Executive Vice President for Benecard Services (Clifton N.J.; Orlando, Fla.; and Mechanicsburg, Va.). Earlier in his career he managed an entrepreneurial program at Princeton University; worked in business development and venture management; and was a staff accountant with a CPA firm.

“I very much look forward to serving the EPC,” Francescone said. “I hope to put everyone at ease regarding their healthcare needs and retirement plans, and enable all to more fully focus on their ministerial callings.”

He has more than 20 years of experience with companies that provide health benefit plan administration services, benefit consulting, and insurance protection to employer and union health plans. He holds insurance producer licenses in health, life, property, and casualty in 45 states. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

Francescone is an active member of Allentown Presbyterian Church in Allentown, N.J., where he has served as an adult education teacher, confirmation instructor, small group leader, youth leader, prayer leader, and church treasurer. He also has served as a substitute teacher and member of the Finance Committee at Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, N.J. He has served as a Young Life volunteer leader and committee member, and volunteers in local youth and recovery programs as well as in food, shelter, and medical care organizations.

He and his wife, Lisa, have been married 29 years and have three adult children: Alex, Liz, and Holly. Lisa has served as a special education teacher in the Upper Freehold (N.J.) Regional School District for 10 years.

Open Enrollment for EPC Benefits begins November 1


BRIlogo-96dpiRGBOpen Enrollment for EPC Benefits is November 1 through November 22. Coverages and changes are effective January 1, 2018. Benefits participants have three options during Open Enrollment:

  • Individuals enrolling in EPC benefits for the first time must complete the Benefits Enrollment Form and have a church officer sign and submit the form to the contact information on the form.
  • Current participants in EPC benefits who do not need (or want) to make changes to their benefits selections for 2018 do not need do anything, except pay the January 2018 invoice.
  • Participants who need or want to make changes to their benefit selections for 2018 must complete a new Benefits Enrollment Form with all requested information, including the desired changes. This form must be signed by a church officer and submitted to the contact information on the form.

Changes for 2018 include new premium rates for the Medical, Prescription Drug, and Life and Long-Term Disability (LTD) bundled premiums rates. Other changes include a new hearing aid program and a revised delivery method for maintenance drugs.

For more information, see the Benefits 2018 Open Enrollment page at or contact Diane Pray in the EPC Benefits office at 734-838-6942 or Participants in the EPC Benefits plans may contact their church administrator and/or pastor for information on specific benefit plans offered by their church.

Response to Obamacare


October 2, 2013

Now that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces are “live,” churches are impacted in several ways: federal subsidies, contraceptive mandate, age-based premium rates, and coverage value standards. The EPC Medical Plan has responded to each of these issues, including adding a Silver Plan, to help churches in 2014 and beyond. Click here for a summary of how we are preparing for the ACA. For info about the Silver option and much more, go to benefits documents.

EPC Medical Benefit Plan Update


EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah provides and update from the Board of Benefits and the Committee On Administration about the EPC Medical Benefits Plan.

EPC Medical Benefit Plan Update

Having taken responsibility for making necessary changes to our Medical Plan, the Committee on Administration has also committed to communicating with you as quickly and as effectively as possible about any changes that are made.  That’s the reason for this brief video.  We have three important items to call to your attention today.

One, the EPC Medical Plan will be in business in 2014 and 2015.  Because of continued uncertainties and delays in the implementation of major portions of Obamacare, we don’t expect a large number of EPC churches will depart our Medical Plan to go to Exchanges in 2014.  As long as enough churches participate in the Plan to keep it viable, we’re going to make improvements to the Plan in order to better serve you.

That leads to our second point:  In an effort to make our Plan more affordable (especially to those under 55 years old), an age-based premium structure will be implemented in 2014.  This will result in substantially lower premium costs for many Plan participants and no increase for all other participants next year.  We believe that the reduced costs of this new premium structure will make our Plan attractive to EPC churches that are currently not in the Plan.  Those churches will have the opportunity to enter our Plan for 2014 during the open enrollment period November 1-20, 2013.

Here’s an important qualifier: In terms of cost alone, we do not expect to be competitive with medical coverage offered on exchanges.  The reason being that those plans will be subsidized by the federal government’s Premium Tax Credits.  Our plan will not.  However, if you consider entering an Exchange, please remember that the EPC Plan is exempt from the mandate to provide abortions and abortifacient drugs.  Plans offered on the Exchanges are required to offer that coverage.

Third: In order to provide you better customer service, the administration of as much of the Medical Plan as possible has been outsourced to a professional benefits administrator –CDS.  This outsourcing is already in process.

In closing, this video blog is a brief overview provided to introduce you to these important developments.  More information about these will be coming to you soon via email.  If you need information immediately, please contact Phil VanValkenburg at

Thank you and God bless you!

EPC Medical Plan Premiums Reduced For Many In 2014


Premium rates for all participants in the 2014 Medical Plan will decrease or be equal to current rates. Early this week, the Committee on Administration approved the Board of Benefits proposal to set premium rates based on participant’s age, as follows: For those less than 40 years old, rates will be 50% less than currently; for those 40-54, rates will be 25% lower, and for those 55+, rates will be unchanged for 2014. Enrollment from November 1-20, 2013 will be open to all eligible employees. New rates will be effective November 1 for all current participants. Coverage and rates for new participants will be effective on January 1, 2014. More detailed information will soon be published. Anyone needing details immediately should contact Chief Operating Officer Phil VanValkenburg at