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Churches Concerned About Upcoming Health Insurance Changes Have a New Resource and Ally

"We can help churches with Obamacare." Mark Brooks, President and Founder, Charis Benefit Consulting Services

Atlanta-based The Charis Group is known for consulting with Christian ministries, helping them raise funds for capital projects. But according to Mark Brooks, president and founder, the company is broadening its offerings to churches under the wing of The Charis Benefit Consulting Services.

“Our official launch was at the National Association of Church Business Administration tradeshow (NACBA) [this summer in Washington, D.C.],” says Brooks. His brother, Michael Brooks—who worked in the insurance industry for more than 30 years—is serving the expanded venture as benefits consultant, and is currently working with The Charis Group’s existing client base to help them understand and save money on their health insurance plans.

Michael Brooks says he’s finding that many churches have questions about their health insurance plans, and how best to handle them in light of legislation that will impact those plans in the near future. “We can help churches with Obamacare. They want to know, how will that impact us?” he says. “Health and Human Services has a 200+-page report on how new legislation and state exchanges are going to affect people. That was very much on people’s lists [at NACBA].”

And he continues, “People want to know how we save them money. It’s not a matter of just going out and finding a cheaper quote than what they have. For example, we worked with a church in the St. Louis metro area that went to a higher deductible for lower monthly premiums, so now the staff has higher out-of-pocket expenses. The church is reimbursing for some of that. But we asked why they couldn’t get discounted dollars.”

According to Michael Brooks, churches can purchase Medigap plans that will pay for the co-pays and deductibles. So instead of a church reimbursing its employees for a portion of their out-of-pocket costs, now they have a gap plan to help pick up those costs. The total annual cost for the church’s benefit plan is reduced for the same level of coverage, while also reducing out-of-pocket expenses for staff.

Michael Brooks also reports that The Charis Benefit Consulting Services will operate independently of any carrier in its consulting efforts, and they will also work with churches on more than major medical plans. “The company will consult on rider policies that are oftentimes much cheaper for churches than purchasing a separate plan for other needs, such as critical illness,” he says, adding that duplications of benefits are often hidden and always unnecessary costs.

“We let our customers know which questions to ask the brokerage firm they’re with,” Michael Brooks adds. “If a church administrator knows what questions to ask, their insurance broker will gladly get it for them. We want to be an advocate for the church.”

One hurdle for the company so far has been the impression that health insurance plan consulting comes with a hefty price tag—an amount prohibitive for churches. Yet Mark Brooks reports that’s not the case. “It’s hard to get your hands around what we can do for churches in terms of helping them handle their healthcare, [for] about $250.”

Mark Brooks adds, “My heart’s desire is total stewardship to churches. We’ve been doing capital campaigns [for years] and now help with annual campaigns and things like that. As I thought about my own healthcare issues and how to navigate all this legislation—with all the uncertainties—my brother was my best resource. I thought, why not for churches?”

To learn more about The Charis Benefit Consulting Services, visit http://thecharisgroup.org/health-care-help/.

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