According to its website, villagemissions.org, Village Missions (VM) revitalizes more than 230 rural communities throughout North America by placing qualified missionary-pastors in church leadership positions. We spoke with Jim Cross, Village Missions Chief Financial Officer, to learn more.
Christian Healthcare Ministries: What did Village Missions do to provide for missionaries’ health care costs before discovering CHM?
Jim Cross: Village Missions was self-insured for 20 years. In the last two years before joining CHM, we used a health insurance plan and were caught in an unfortunate spiral of increasing health care costs and decreasing employee benefits. The onset of the U.S. Affordable Care Act (ACA) only amplified the problem.
CHM: What made the VM leadership team decide to join CHM?
JC: To have an ACA-compliant insurance plan, we were paying $2 million in annual insurance premiums. In contrast, with CHM as an integral part of our overall health plan, we saw an immediate savings of $480,000. We also discovered the savings would enable us to set aside hundreds of thousands of dollars in an HRA (Health Reimbursement Arrangement) to help with employee expenses not eligible for sharing through CHM.
We knew that remaining in good health is a key to our missionaries’ effectiveness. We also have a long history of bearing each other’s burdens, as Galatians 6:2 states, by coming alongside rural churches. Knowing that is CHM’s foundational verse helped us realize it was a good fit.
CHM: What are the major components of your overall health care plan?
JC: Our missionaries use CHM for major medical costs. To be ACA-compliant, we also offer an HRA for wellness care (including debit cards for employee convenience), a pharmacy benefit plan for routine prescriptions and case managers to work with missionaries facing medical situations.
CHM: How does having CHM as part of your health plan help free up funds for ministry work?
JC: By saving almost half a million dollars in insurance premiums, we were able to use those funds to fulfill our purpose: sending missionary-pastors to rural churches. Switching to CHM also helped get rid of some hidden costs we would’ve had with an insurance plan.
CHM: What would you say is the difference between a family CHM membership and a group membership?
JC: In a family membership, there are only two parties: the family and CHM. In a group membership, the employer is the plan “sponsor” responsible for making sure employees are satisfied with their health plan and understand how to use it. Employers also field many questions from employees about how Christian Healthcare Ministries works. It’s therefore particularly helpful to work closely with CHM and be able to speak with someone familiar with our overall health plan.
CHM: How do your employees feel about transitioning in 2015 from insurance to CHM and your overall health care plan?
JC: The biggest hurdle we faced at first was getting people to understand that they are now taking control of their own health care costs. As a large group, we also faced some technical challenges. However, the CHM staff has demonstrated a great willingness to answer questions, solve technological issues and serve us well.
We’re so glad to now be on the cutting edge of health care cost solutions.