Pine Cove Camp, Tyler, TX

For a camp whose motto emphasizes being “Christ-centered,” “others-focused,” and seriously fun,” Pine Cove (PC)—a Christian camp serving more than 35,000 campers and employing nearly 1,830 staff—is also serious about healthcare costs.

In Jan. 2018 Pine Cove made CHM the foundation of their healthcare program. Director of Pine Cove’s human resources, Bea Rosenhauch, and Laura Hollingsworth, Benefits and Compensation Manager, shared their journey of switching to health cost sharing.

CHM: Please tell us about Pine Cove and the campers and staff you serve.

BR: Pine Cove began in 1967 when the founder, Bill McKenzie, followed God’s calling to start a summer camp in Tyler, Texas. He has often said, “I didn’t have any special ability to start a camp—only my availability. I didn’t know any better than to believe God.”

Because of his faithful obedience, Pine Cove just celebrated 50 years of service. Pine Cove has 11 camps in three regions and has ministered to more than one million people. Our mission is to be used by God to transform the lives of people for His purposes and His glory.

LH: This summer was our largest payroll of the year, totaling more than 2,000 full-time and resident staff. We also have numerous part-time employees.

CHM: How did Pine Cove come to consider CHM as the cornerstone of the camp’s health plan?

LH: In 2017, Pine Cove’s chief operating officer, Matt Edwards, visited a church whose staff were CHM members. They urged him to look into what CHM had to offer.

BR: We had already set up a 2017 Health Savings Account for our staff, so we called several times to ask questions about CHM’s Gold and Brother’s Keeper programs. Then Laura and Matt joined the conversation, and Matt met with CHM staff to fully understand the ministry’s advantages. CHM also provided references of ministries who used CHM to meet their healthcare needs.

CHM: In August 2017, you presented your plan to the leadership council. How did it go?

BR: We focused on the savings first (Matt had learned that several ministries experienced six-figure savings), but we also highlighted that PC would be joining other ministries to share one another’s costs. It’s a very biblical model, and because the essence of our camp is to be Christ-centered, they were open to the concept despite initial skepticism.

LH: Their greatest concern was about how the PC staff would respond.

BR: They were also fearful about not having insurance. To combat these fears, we invited the CFO of another ministry whose healthcare plan includes CHM to speak to our directors. The CFO answered questions and shared his personal experience with CHM.

LH: Gaining approval and support from the PC directors was immensely helpful. We prepared the announcement to the staff. Then we presented it to a select group of employees who we knew would be the most skeptical and most likely to express concern. We told them, “You’re our ‘main players,’ and we want to hear from you first.” We asked them to be honest with our presentation and share their concerns. They gave us constructive criticism and became some of our biggest advocates. Once they understood the plan, they had a desire for us to give a winning presentation to the rest of the staff.

CHM: What were some of the changes they suggested?

LH: They wanted reassurance that doctors and billing offices would already understand the ministry and that CHM members are self-pay patients. Additionally, they were concerned that employees wouldn’t want to negotiate their own self-pay discounts.

BR: We researched our geographic area to gauge the number of providers who were comfortable working with self-pay patients. We found that a lot of people were already doing so frequently.

CHM: What do you like most about your health and wellness plan and your relationship with CHM?

LH: CHM is a ministry, not just a way to meet your healthcare needs. You’re supporting hundreds of thousands of Christians across the country. Our staff have sent prayer cards to other members. It feels incredible to hear that our employees are passionate about being CHM members.

It’s also a great feeling when we hear administrators say that our healthcare plan is part of our ministry as camp staff. Our employees are “taking ownership” of their CHM membership and comment often on how blessed they are to be CHM members.

During the medical incidents our employees have experienced so far, it’s clear that CHM staff have such soft hearts toward the people they serve. CHM staff have teared up and prayed right away for the situations our staff have unexpectedly found themselves in. I’m sure it’s easy to become numb to those feelings when every day you hear about one crisis after another. CHM staff have had their hearts broken by the things that break our hearts. We’re so humbled by that.

The financial savings are amazing, but what drives our appreciation of CHM is the true, genuine care we get every time we pick up the phone and talk with ministry staff.

Editor’s note: The Pine Cove staff would also like to thank attorney Jeff Zimon for his assistance.

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