Frequently Asked Questions About the UUA Health Plan
How does the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) health plan work?
Unlike most health plans offered by commercial insurance carriers, the UUA plan belongs to the UUA itself. The UUA Employee Benefits Trust owns and operates the plan on a non-profit basis for the exclusive benefit of the participants.
The primary purpose of the plan is to enable congregations to fulfill their responsibilities to provide adequate health insurance to their ministers and other staff. By pooling our resources, we can obtain better insurance at lower costs than churches can individually. Most other religious denominations in the U.S. have created plans for their congregations that are like the one being offered by the UUA.
Religious bodies strive to be mutually supportive and share in each other's burdens. The UUA health plan makes it possible for us to do this in a much needed and tangible way.
Who is eligible to enroll?
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Health Plan offers coverage to:
- Ministers under 65
- Staff members under 65
- Ministers and staff members over 65, who are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B (Please visit our Medicare page for more information)
- Interns in candidate status (paid or unpaid)
- Other employees of affiliated Unitarian Universalist (UU) organizations
- Self-employed UU community ministers
- Community ministers who work for an organization that does not offer health benefits
- Retired Ministers over age 65 who are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B (Please visit our Medicare page for more information)
- Retired Ministers under 65, who have worked at least 5 out of the last 10 years in a ministerial capacity
Participants must work at least 750 hours per year (rounded to 15 hours per week for convenience).
We cannot accept applicants who work fewer than 750 hours per year (15 hours per week), persons who are volunteers, or members of congregations who are not paid staff.
Will I have to prove insurability in order to enroll?
We have an Open Enrollment every November for an effective date of the following January 1. Those who can apply to enroll include:
- Employees who missed the last open enrollment
- Employees who did not enroll when they were hired
- Employees who already worked more than 15 hours per week whose hours expanded during the year
- Dependents who were not originally enrolled
These employees require no evidence of insurability and there is no exclusion due to pre-existing conditions.
In addition, all employees are eligible to enroll and/or add an eligible dependent within 30 days of a qualifying event, such as their date of hire, increase in hours, marriage, birth, loss of other coverage, etc.
If I presently have other health coverage, do I have to switch to this plan?
No, but we hope you will do a careful comparison of benefits and rates, and consider the value of joining a plan owned and operated by the UUA for the exclusive benefit of plan members. You will not be penalized if you lose your other coverage and enroll in the UUA plan.
Can I change my coverage during the year (outside of open enrollment)?
Coverage can be changed to a lower cost/higher deductible plan at any time during the calendar year by emailing insuranceplans [at] uua [dot] org with your request. Coverage can only be changed to a higher cost/lower deductible plan during open enrollment in November.
How do we recognize different family coverage configurations?
People can enroll for coverage as an:
- Employee plus spouse or partner
- Employee plus child(ren)
Can I still see my current doctor?
Yes. If your current physician accepts payment under the terms of the BCBS nation-wide provider network, which most do, you will receive the plan's higher level of benefits. If your physician is not in the network, or is on the staff of an HMO that does not work with BCBS, you may continue to use them, but at a lower benefit level.
Will I have access to a specialist if needed?
Absolutely. Most primary care physicians today are pediatric, internal medicine, or family practice specialists. All of the other major specialties such as obstetrics and gynecology, cardiology, oncology, urology, orthopedics, and the various surgical specialties are included in the network.
What if I am away from home?
Since the BCBS physician network is truly nation-wide, the chances are great that you will find network physicians anywhere you might travel in the U.S. The BlueCard Worldwide (PDF, 3 pages) Program plan will cover needed care in many countries around the world. Needed emergency care will be covered anywhere.
What if I am over the age of 65?
We expect that persons age 65 and older and who are still employed will be enrolled in Medicare for their primary coverage, with the UUA plan for their secondary coverage. Eligible retirees with Medicare for their primary coverage (Parts A and B) can join to use the plan as a Medicare Supplement.
Does this plan cover prescriptions?
Yes. Prescriptions obtained during a medical office visit or emergency treatment can be filled immediately, preferably at a retail pharmacy in the network. Enrollees needing ongoing medications on a continuing basis will be strongly urged to use a mail order prescription service in order to save money for themselves and the plan. The co-payments for generic drugs will be lowest in cost.
What about dental and vision coverage?
Eye or dental care or surgery needed because of accident or disease will be covered. The also plan covers an annual comprehensive vision screening without a deductible. In addition, we include a vision plan using the Davis Vision network. Plan Participants do not need to change doctors to continue receiving care. Our Vision Benefit covers lenses, frames, and contact lenses, and offers coverage for the services of participating opticians. It is a separate plan from member health benefits, but it will be noted on a new member ID card to make it easy for you to identify yourself to participating providers. There is no separate Vision enrollment – it is linked to the Health Plan.
Are all UU congregations required to participate?
No, but we wish that all UU organizations would use the plan in order to assure quality care, save on premiums for the church and the enrollees, and support a plan created and controlled by the UUA for the exclusive benefit of our congregations.
Must all eligible staff of a congregation enroll in order for any to enroll?
No. Coverage must be offered to all eligible employees but they may decline to enroll.
Does my congregation or organization have a policy regarding the UUA Health Plan?
Each congregation or employer may have its own policy regarding participation in the UUA Health Plan. Please refer to the UUA Health Plan Subscription Agreement on file with your employer for information such as employer contributions, if any, available plans, and coverage date.
Are congregations required to contribute to the cost of the plan?
We encourage all congregations to contribute at least 80% of the cost for this plan for employees and at least 50% of the cost for additional family members. Contributing to the cost is a concrete way for a congregation to demonstrate their commitment to UU principles of social justice and a life with dignity for all persons. Sharing the cost is also a good way to enhance plan stability for the future.
Congregations that cannot meet the 80% guideline should carefully assess their funding capacity. Our District Compensation Consultants and our Health Plan Office are available for dialogue on funding concerns.
How do individuals enroll?
Eligible staff of UU organizations must complete the UUA Health Plan Enrollment Application.
What happens if my employment status changes after I am enrolled in the plan?
If your employment terminates or your hours drop below 750 per year, your coverage will be canceled. Once we are notified of the change you will be offered COBRA continuation coverage as provided by law.