2018 WELS Benefit Plans Annual Report

Through the WELS Benefit Plans, our church body walks together to take care of the health and financial wellbeing of the families of workers at WELS ministries.  The sole purpose of the WELS Benefit Plans is to support WELS ministry efforts by providing Benefit Plans that are comprehensive for workers, cost-effective for ministries, and consistent with God’s Word.

We invite you to read our 2018 annual report, which includes a summary of the benefits we provide and highlights of 2018 financial results.


2019 WELS Benefit Plans Summary

The following provides a summary of the WELS Benefit Plans for 2019 and information to help newly-hired workers begin participating in the plans.


To participate in WELS VEBA, a new worker must enroll within 60 days of his/her employment start date.  To enroll, login to the WELS Benefits Service Center website at wels.bswift.com or call 1-800-487-8322 (option 1).

WELS Pension Plan

Participation in the WELS Pension Plan is automatic for called workers upon acceptance of a formal call issued by WELS.  Called workers do not need to complete an enrollment form to participate in the WELS Pension Plan.

WELS Shepherd Plan

Contact the calling body to which you have been assigned to determine if they have adopted the Shepherd Plan and to obtain enrollment instructions.


New Website for Sponsoring Organizations

The Benefit Plans Office is pleased to introduce a new website with content dedicated for use primarily by sponsoring organization representatives, such as treasurers, business managers, and other organizational leaders. Visit the website at: https://resources.welsbpo.net.

Initial content includes information for organizations to prepare for the upcoming 2019 WELS VEBA limited open enrollment period, general information about the WELS Benefit Plans, and resources to assist organizational representatives in their year-round administrative activities. We encourage sponsoring organization representatives to use this new website as a primary resource and refer to it frequently.

2019 WELS VEBA Health Plan Rates

The 2019 premium rates for the WELS VEBA Group Health Care Plan will increase by 2% for all plan options over the current 2018 rates.  No changes to cost-sharing amounts (e.g. deductibles) or covered services are expected for the 2019 plan year.  The WELS VEBA health plan has experienced better-than-expected claims costs and investment returns over the past 18 months, which has allowed the WELS VEBA Commission to limit the 2019 rate increase to 2% while maintaining adequate reserves.

In addition, the WELS VEBA Commission has approved a limited open enrollment period this November for coverage effective January 1, 2019.  Eligible workers at sponsoring organizations with at least one active worker enrolled in the WELS VEBA health plan will have the opportunity to enroll for new coverage or make changes to their existing WELS VEBA coverage.  Open enrollment materials will be mailed to eligible workers in late-October.  Please note that workers at sponsoring organizations without an active worker enrolled in the WELS VEBA health plan will not be eligible to enroll during this limited open enrollment period unless they experience a qualifying life event.

2019 WELS Pension Plan Contribution Rates

The 2019 contribution rates for the WELS Pension Plan are now available on this page.

The 9.9% increase was approved by the WELS Retirement Program Commission to continue its efforts to improve the Plan’s funded status and recover from the 2008-09 market downturn.


2018 Benefits Guide

If you are a new worker at a WELS ministry organization or would simply like to learn more about the benefits available through the WELS Benefit Plans, we encourage you to read the 2018 WELS Benefit Plans Guide at the link below.  The Guide provides a brief overview of the WELS VEBA Group Health Care Plan, the WELS Pension Plan and the WELS Shepherd Plan.

If you have questions or would like additional information, please feel free to contact the WELS Benefit Plans Office by email to bpo@wels.net or by calling 1-800-487-8322.



Important Advantages of WELS VEBA

WELS VEBA provides health benefits for workers at WELS and ELS calling bodies across the country.  The above video provides information on the important advantages of WELS VEBA.  A flyer highlighting the main points discussed in the video is available for download here.  We encourage you to share this video and flyer with fellow workers and leaders at your organization as you make future health coverage decisions.

The business of health coverage is now more confusing than ever, especially given the uncertainties brought about by health care reform.  As our church’s health plan and trusted resource for health benefits, you can rest assured that WELS VEBA will analyze the complex regulations to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and offer the best coverage at a reasonable price for WELS/ELS pastors, teachers, staff ministers, and lay workers.

By providing WELS VEBA to our workers and their families, calling bodies ensure stable, high-quality health coverage for the duration of our workers’ WELS/ELS ministries, regardless of where the Lord calls them to serve.

WELS Benefit Plans Office, on behalf of the WELS VEBA Commission

Anthem LiveHealth Online

Easy, fast doctor visits. All from the comfort of your own computer or mobile device 365 days a year.

LiveHealth Online is a new communications tool provided by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield that allows you to talk to doctors online by two-way video on a computer. Doctors can answer questions, make a diagnosis, and may prescribe basic medications (as legally permitted in certain states).

  • It’s accessible. You can use LiveHealth Online at work, at home or anywhere you have computer access. You never need an appointment.
  • It’s fast. You can log in and talk to a doctor within a few minutes.
  • It’s flexible to meet your schedule. Doctors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
  • It’s private, secure, and you can typically select between several available board-certified physicians.
  • It’s affordable. The cost of a visit is $49, and will be applied to your WELS VEBA deductible and coinsurance amounts. If your deductible is met, you only pay the applicable in-network coinsurance.
  • It’s available to your entire family. Family and friends who are not covered under WELS VEBA can also use the service; they simply pay the full $49 for the visit.
  • It’s convenient. LiveHealth Online accepts payments via MasterCard, Visa, and Discover.
Common Symptoms That Can Be Treated Via LiveHealth Online
  • Cold & flu symptoms, such as a cough, fever and headache
  • Allergies
  • Bronchitis
  • Diarrhea
  • Family health questions
  • Headache/migraine
  • Hypertension
  • Pinkeye and other eye infections
  • Rashes
  • Sinus infections
  • Smoking cessation
  • Sprains and strains
  • Urinary tract infections

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Cyber Attack

As widely reported, Anthem, Inc. was the target of a sophisticated external cyber attack that occurred in December 2014 and January 2015. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield is the claims administrator for the WELS VEBA Group Health Care Plan. Anthem has informed us that WELS VEBA members since 2004 may be at risk of unauthorized access to their confidential data.

Current and former WELS VEBA members are encouraged to visit Anthem’s cyber attack website at www.anthemfacts.com or call Anthem’s hotline at 877-263-7995 for up-to-date information on the attack and its impact on members, as well as instructions on how to utilize free credit monitoring and identify theft repair services.

The pages below provide updates sent to WELS VEBA members and calling bodies based on information provided by Anthem:

Initial Anthem announcement

We are informing all WELS VEBA members and former members that we are aware Anthem, Inc., the claims administrator for WELS VEBA, is the victim of a highly sophisticated cyber attack. Anthem has informed us that its member data was accessed, and could include that of our current and former members.

We are working closely with Anthem to better understand the impact on our members. Here is what we do know:

  • Once Anthem determined it was the victim of a sophisticated cyber attack, it immediately notified federal law enforcement officials and shared the indicators of compromise with the HITRUST C3 (Cyber Threat Intelligence and Incident Coordination Center).
  • Anthem’s Information Security has worked to eliminate any further vulnerability and continues to secure all of its data.
  • Anthem immediately began a forensic IT investigation to determine the number of impacted consumers and to identify the type of information accessed. The investigation is still taking place.
  • The information accessed includes member names, member health ID numbers/Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and employment information, including income data. Social
  • Security numbers were included in only a subset of the universe of consumers that were impacted.
  • Anthem is still working to determine which members’ Social Security numbers were accessed.
  • Anthem’s investigation to date shows that no credit card or confidential health information was accessed.
  • Anthem has advised us there is no indication at this time that any of our clients’ personal information has been misused.
  • All impacted Anthem members will be automatically enrolled in identity repair services. In addition, impacted members will be provided information on how to enroll in free credit monitoring.
  • We are continuing to work closely with Anthem to better understand the cyber attack and the impact on our members. Anthem has created a website: www.anthemfacts.com, and a hotline, 1-877-263-7995, for members to call for more information, in addition to a Frequently Asked Questions list that further explains the cyber attack.

We are closely monitoring any developments and will continue to keep you updated on Anthem’s ongoing investigation.

In Christ’s Service,

Mr. Joshua Peterman

Director of WELS Benefit Plans