News Articles

No rate increases in ’07 in GuideStone personal medical plans

DENVER (BP)–No rate increase will be enacted in 2007 in the personal medical plans of GuideStone Financial Resources, marking the third year in a row that the Southern Baptist entity has held the line on rates.

GuideStone trustees approved the annual re-rate recommendation during their July 31-Aug. 1 meeting in Denver.

An update on GuideStone’s long-range planning toward its 100th anniversary in 2018 also was presented to trustees by Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones.

Other than regular age increases, GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins noted in his report to trustees, 100 percent of personal medical plan participants will receive no rate increase and more than 40 percent will receive a rate decrease. Hawkins credited the good report to the continued improvements in the administration and design of GuideStone’s medical plans.

“During the past several years, we have provided a greater variety of choices in our medical plans with varying deductibles and rates. We have also realized greater discounts by using a single network. We are beginning to see positive results from our wellness emphasis and more and more churches are taking responsibility in meeting their pastor’s benefits needs,” Hawkins said.

All state Baptist conventions that have their medical coverage with GuideStone’s group plans will receive no rate increase in 2007 and 46 percent of the conventions will receive a rate decrease, Hawkins reported. For all other group plans, he said 88 percent will receive no increase and 53 percent will receive a rate decrease.

There will be no increase in medical plan rates for the senior plans, Hawkins also noted.

The stability of GuideStone’s medical plan rates is even more significant since medical inflation is increasing by 8-12 percent per year, Hawkins said. More information related to GuideStone’s medical plans will be mailed to participants and group administrators.

Jones reviewed the strategic objectives related to GuideStone 90, the first phase of GuideStone’s long-range plan. GuideStone 100, which trustees previously had approved, is the long-range plan which charts the course toward marking GuideStone’s 100th year of operation in 2018.

“Initiatives related to GuideStone 90 are focused on strengthening GuideStone’s lifelong partnership with its participants,” Jones said.

Jones reviewed a number of initiatives that have contributed to the financial security of participants including the roll-out of the Morningstar Retirement Manager online software tool to assist participants in choosing an appropriate asset allocation for their retirement accounts.

Other new products that will be available to participants include automatic re-allocation of a participant’s account, new services for participants approaching retirement and the ability to choose new asset allocation funds for participants approaching retirement.

Jones also reminded trustees that GuideStone Funds will celebrate its five-year anniversary on Aug. 28. He described GuideStone Funds as the nation’s largest Christian-based, socially screened registered mutual fund family. He also noted that the goal of GuideStone’s investment program is to provide its investors with access to global financial markets utilizing a multi-manager investment approach with proven investment management firms.

“The five-year anniversary is a significant milestone for our fund company and demonstrates to the investment community and to our investor base a track record with a great deal of accomplishment,” said Rodric E. Cummins, GuideStone Funds’ chief investment officer.

Jones told trustees that a project team has been organized to study the feasibility of allowing members of Southern Baptist churches to participate in the financial and insurance products of GuideStone. The study is in response to a motion made by Gary Smith of Arlington, Texas, during the Southern Baptist Convention’s mid-June annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C.

“Every decision we make as trustees and staff must be considered in terms of our vision statement which says, ‘We exist to honor the Lord by being a lifelong partner with our participants in enhancing their financial security,’” Hawkins said.

“In that statement we find our motivation —- to honor the Lord. We find our message -— to be a lifelong partner. And we have our mandate -— to enhance the financial security of our participants. We must always ask, ‘Will this decision enhance the financial security of the pastor at the crossroads and our other participants?’”

The trustees’ relief committee added or upgraded 89 recipients to the financial assistance roll during the first six months of 2006. They approved 12 two-year monthly or expense grants.

The board welcomed two new trustees elected in Greensboro: Roger D. Phillips of Liverpool, N.Y., and J. Timothy Wilkes of Mobile, Ala.

The next scheduled meeting of GuideStone’s trustees is Nov. 6-7 in Dallas.

    About the Author

  • Curtis D. Sharp