Benefit Resources

Arkansas Churches served by full-time Elders in full Connection, Associate, Provisional Members, and Local Pastors of the Conference under regular Arkansas appointment are mandated to provide 100% of the Conference Employer Health Insurance Plan premium for the clergy until December 31, 2015, the exceptions are; clergy with military health insurance, seminary students and clergy receiving their first appointment on July 1, 2015. All full-time employees of the Conference Office shall participate in the Health Benefits Program of the Arkansas Conference. Spouses and dependents who have access to employer provided health insurance, or are Medicare eligible may make written request to opt out of conference insurance.

The Program is open for full-time lay staff (working at least 30 hrs. per week), Probationers, Student Local Pastors, Full Deacons, Diaconal Ministers, Full Members serving less than full-time appointment or employment and eligible dependents. Participation is optional. It is their responsibility to make necessary arrangements to enroll and will be responsible for the total premium.

Effective January 1, 2016 ALL Clergy are responsible for enrolling and paying for family healthcare coverage. The Board of Pension and Health Benefits recommends that effective January 1, 2016 charges with full-time appointments increase the compensation of the clergy positions by a minimum of $12,000. The adjustment should ease any financial burden on the church and clergy.

Because clergy will have their own healthcare in place effective January 1, 2016, clergy who request Medical Leave and apply for CPP Disability benefits will continue to be responsible for healthcare costs. When eligible for Medicare, you must enroll in Medicare Parts A & B at your own cost. The Arkansas Board of Pension and Health Benefits will provide a healthcare premium stipend based on qualified years of service when you become eligible for Medicare.

Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace Information – Important dates for enrollment:

  • November 1: Open Enrollment starts — first day you can enroll in an ACA Marketplace plan for the upcoming year. Attached please find a check-list of items you will need in order to enroll in healthcare plans
  • December 31: The Conference Group Healthcare Plan will end at mid-night. You must have new coverage in place for January 1
  • January 1: First date ACA coverage can start
  • January 31: ACA Open Enrollment ends

If you don’t enroll in a plan by January 31 you can’t enroll in a health insurance plan for the year unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Don’t assume that you will pay a high health insurance plan premium. You may qualify for lower costs based on household modified adjusted gross income and number of people in your household. The income totals used are national so they are higher than what you may think. A single person making up to $46,680 may qualify for lower costs on health insurance coverage, and family of 4 with a household modified adjusted gross income of $95,400 may qualify for the tax credits, lower out of pocket costs or low cost health coverage through Medicaid. To learn if you qualify for lower costs on health insurance coverage, find your estimated 2015 household income and household size on the chart below. Click below to learn how to calculate income. Learn how to estimate your income for the Marketplace. Here is the link for a quick check: Do I qualify to save on health insurance coverage? The column on the left tells you if you may qualify for premium tax credits, lower out-of-pocket costs, or low-cost health care through Medicaid.

Note: If you have Medicare or are eligible due to age (65 & up) or disability you must enroll & pay for Medicare B & purchase a Medicare Supplement, Advantage Plan and Part D Rx Plan. You are not eligible for coverage on the Marketplace. Download the “Apply For or Renew Your Health Insurance Marketplace Coverage” checklist to help you make the best healthcare choice for you and/or your family.

Virgin Pulse Fitness Program: Virgin Healthmiles primarily focused getting participants walking, and awarded points for mileage goals reached. Today, Virgin Pulse supports a more encompassing vision of healthy behavior, rewarding participants for keeping a journal of other activities, such as swimming, which may not be counted by a pedometer or other tracker; to set nutrition goals; to track other wellbeing goals; and to challenge friends. The Virgin Pulse program helps participants address all areas of well-being, including financial, social, emotional, spiritual and physical. The first pedometer is free to newly enrolled participants. If a participant already has a preferred fitness tracking device, the program will sync with many available brands and models, including Fitbit and Apple Watch. Participants can earn up to $275 per calendar quarter, with increasing dollar amounts given as each of four levels of point accrual is completed. Points toward reward levels can be earned through activity, and also by reporting healthy habits on the mobile app or website. All Full-time, active clergy and spouses, as well as full-time Conference-employed laity and spouses, may enroll in Virgin Pulse if they are not already participating. Those who may have lost momentum (and possibly their pedometer) can rejoin the plan at any time between now and Annual Conference.

Eligible individuals may begin tracking activity and habits and earning rewards through Virgin Pulse immediately. To enroll, visit and select Arkansas as plan sponsor when prompted. If you have questions or need assistance, contact Mona Williams at or 501-324-8028.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP): The Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits partnered with The Board of Ordained Ministry to bring clergy families the Methodist Healthcare Employee Assistance Program. Since January 1, 2012, this program has provided free, confidential short-term counseling to all active, retired clergy and clergy households. The Board of Pension and Health Benefits recommends continuing the program. The cost is minimal and the benefits are great. Beginning January 1, 2017 the program will be funded through apportionments. The benefit is not guaranteed and will be reviewed annually. The Methodist Healthcare EAP has been a leader in the Memphis community for over 25 years. We are pleased to offer this service to our clergy and their households. EAP can help with many of life’s challenges such as family issues, marital concerns, alcohol and drug abuse, anxiety, depression, major life events, grief, work concerns and managing the stress of everyday life. The program offers 6 counseling sessions to you and members of your household, free of charge. In most cases, short-term counseling is all the help you’ll need. However, if a referral outside the EAP is necessary, the EAP counselor will seek the best resources for your situation. Counseling outside the EAP will require use of insurance or self-pay. Use of the EAP and issues discussed in all sessions are held in strict confidence. Rest assured that your private health information remains confidential and can only be released outside the EAP with your written consent or when required by law such as in life threatening situations or child/elder abuse. All Arkansas Conference staff members and clergy families; whether full time, part time, retired or disabled as well as members of your household are eligible to participate. Surviving spouses are also eligible for this benefit. People who live within 50 miles of the two EAP offices in Memphis will use that resource. For all others, there are affiliate counselors throughout Arkansas to serve you and your family. For more information about the Methodist Healthcare EAP, please visit their website at and review the brochure enclosed in this announcement. To access the program, simply call their toll free number 1-800-880-5658 to schedule an appointment. Look for more information from the Methodist Healthcare EAP throughout the year via a monthly newsletter.