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Mission statement enhancements, rate hikes reported to Annuity Board trustees

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (BP)–Reports concerning enhancements to the Annuity Board’s mission statement and ministry assignment, as approved by the Southern Baptist Convention, were heard by the agency’s trustees during their July 31-Aug. 1 summer meeting in San Diego.

Information related to insurance rate increases, including a double-digit increase for some participants, also was relayed to trustees.

O.S. Hawkins, president and chief executive officer, expressed praise to God and thanks to the Southern Baptist Convention for expanding the Annuity Board’s mission statement and ministry assignments.

“This action will make it possible for us to more fully achieve our vision to become a LifePartner with our participants,” Hawkins said.

“Our staff is diligently working to recommend the selection of strategic vendors that will help us to make the necessary arrangements for new products and services,” said John Jones, executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Also scheduled for 2001 will be Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) for Annuity Board participants and their spouses. Jim Morrison, managing director for retirement services, reported on the progress of this initiative.

“Traditional, Roth an educational IRAs will be made available through SBC Trust Services, Inc., an Annuity Board affiliate, sometime in 2001. In a recent survey, 25 percent of Annuity Board respondents indicated they would be very likely to invest in an IRA made available through SBC Trust Services, Inc. These products will be another way participants can plan to put money aside for the future,” Morrison said.

Board treasurer Jeffrey P. Billinger reported that while net income was down compared to first quarter results, June income was up significantly and the quarter closed with total assets under management over $8 billion.

Benefit payments and withdrawals for the first six months totaled $215 million, up 12.7 percent over the same period last year. A total of 29,089 participants/beneficiaries received funded benefit payments and 2,841 received installment benefit payments.

New participants and churches participating in the retirement plans continued the record-setting pace for the first six months of 2000. Through the month of June, more than 3,969 new participants and 619 new churches have been added to the Church Annuity Plan. Contributions to retirement plans are up 7.9 percent for the first six months of the year.

Trustees approved a Jan. 1, 2001, rate increase for participants in the board’s Personal Security Program and Employer Security Program medical plans including Medicare primary plans.

The Personal Security Program and smaller groups in the Employer Security Program will receive a 12-month rate increase of 22 percent. Larger groups in the Employer Security Program will also receive increases for 2001. Notification of the specific increases will be sent to employers before the middle of September.

“A double-digit rate increase is significant for our participants, but it is needed to maintain the integrity of our medical products,” said Doug Day, managing director for insurance services. “This increase was necessary because of the rising costs of health care and prescription drugs, the high utilization of medical services by our participants and our claim expenses continuing to outpace our annual premiums.

“We hope the recent changes in the prescription drug program and the introduction of two Medicare supplement plans in 2001 will help stabilize our medical plans and reduce future rate increases,” Day added.

Day also announced the introduction of several new insurance products in the coming months.

This fall the Annuity Board is making available a long-term care product to its participants. The coverage will be provided through the General Electric Capital Assurance Company, the long-term care division of GE Financial Assurance.

And effective Jan. 1, 2001, the Annuity Board will begin offering several dental plan choices to participants in the Personal Security Program.

As of June 30, a total of $2,657,480 was distributed through the board’s relief programs to needy retired ministers and their widowed spouses, an increase of 9 percent over the first six months of 1999.

More than 1,100 churches requested inserts for their weekly worship bulletins to acknowledge Adopt An Annuitant Sunday on June 25. Money distributed through the board’s relief program comes from gifts by individuals, churches and the Cooperative Program. Every cent of Cooperative Program money is used to assist relief recipients.

At the end of the first six months of 2000, there were 855 individuals or couples receiving supplemental assistance grants and 2,508 received the $75 Adopt An Annuitant benefit.

The trustees’ relief committee considered 74 relief requests. Trustees approved 32 two-year monthly grants, 2 three-month monthly grants, 1 five-month monthly grant, 1 seven-month monthly grant, 1 one-year monthly grant, 1 three-month expense grant, 1 one-time expense grant and 6 two-year expense grants. Twenty-nine were declined for being outside guidelines. Forty-eight individuals were added to the Adopt An Annuitant roll during the first and second quarters.

Trustees welcomed four new trustees elected at the June Southern Baptist Convention to their meeting: Sam Burk Jr. of Colorado, William F. Hansen II of Virginia, Russell J. Lievers of Indiana and Larry A. Standridge of Tennessee. Trustees also approved the election of Samuel E. Stohner, managing director of organizational development, as a vice president of the Annuity Board.

The trustees’ next scheduled meeting will be Nov. 6-7 in Dallas.

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