DALLAS (BP) – Consultations with doctors through telemedicine will be available at no out-of-pocket charge for the majority of participants in the health plans of GuideStone Financial Services in 2019.
The popular Teladoc service provides a consultation with board-certified physicians via phone or computer. Participants can have a prescription sent to a local pharmacy for pickup though co-pays still apply.
Additional enhancements include a new diabetic management program elimination of some inpatient co-pays in comprehensive plans and reduced individual maximum out-of-pocket charges.
All of these enhancements were implemented while keeping average rate increases below 3 percent for group plans. Personal plans participants will see rate increases related only to participant ages. These are the lowest rate adjustments GuideStone has been able to provide in many years with many groups experiencing no rate change even with the added benefits.
"Our insurance team worked diligently to add significant value to our health plans while mitigating the impacts of medical inflation" said O.S. Hawkins president of the Southern Baptist entity. "While the impacts of medical inflation due to high utilization and unhealthy lifestyles along with the lingering impacts of federal health care reform are real our team worked hard to enhance the products at minimal additional costs."
GuideStone's health plans are divided into three categories for 2019:
– comprehensive health plans which provide the highest level of service designed to help with routine doctor visits and more in-depth plans.
– consumer-driven plans which are HSA-qualified high deductible health plans designed to be paired with a health savings account.
– protection plans which provide scaled-down benefits that cover occasional doctor visits. Protection plans include the new Secure Health 3000 introduced in 2018 that provides true medical coverage at the lowest monthly cost among GuideStone's health plans on par with medical sharing ministries.
The Teladoc service has proven beneficial for participants who utilize it instead of expensive urgent care or emergency room service for common ailments especially overnight or on weekends when their primary care physician's office is closed. Participants should still go to an emergency room in life-threatening situations.
"Creative solutions like Teladoc help reduce costs while maintaining excellent service with non-routine needs" Scott Charbonneau managing director of insurance plans at GuideStone said. "We seek to make our plans as robust as possible while removing the administrative burden from church and ministry leaders allowing them to offer life and health coverage from a source they know they can trust."
Dental Medicare-coordinating and term life plan rates remain unchanged for 2019.