Ever since 1969, when the UCC Executive Council handed over the administration of the UCC's health insurance program from the Council for Church and Ministry to the Pension Boards, UCC ministers and members have regarded that program as belonging to the Pension Boards.
"That's wrong," says Michael Downs, Pension Boards executive vice president. "The UCC's health benefits program belongs to the whole church."
In an effort to reinforce that perception, on May 1 the Pension Boards will open a centralized UCC Health Plan office at the UCC's national offices in the Church House in Cleveland. The office will be headed by the Rev. Kenneth L. Ulmer, Director of Health Plans, and include two new staff positions, a case manager and an enrollment and member services specialist. Recruitment for these two new positions began in February.
These three Cleveland-based staff members, along with Shannon Karr, Assistant for Member/Vendor Relations in the New York office, will constitute the Pension Boards' Health Plan Leadership Team. The team will oversee enrollment, troubleshoot coverage and access issues, and monitor quality of care and cost-effectiveness.
"The technology is now in place that allows us to offer members seamless integration of services," Downs says. "Persons calling the New York office will be able to speak with staff in the Cleveland office, and vice versa, at the touch of a button on their phones."
"As features on our website www.pbucc.org expand, members will be able to check on the status of a claim, order a prescription refill, or find a nearby network doctor," he says.