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:

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.

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 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:, 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

Pension Late Payment Contribution Policy

Pension Plan Status

Like most investments, the Plan trust experienced significant losses during the market downturn of 2008-09. Although trust assets have rebounded they have not kept pace with benefits liability growth. The Plan continues to face two significant ongoing challenges: aging participant demographics and an uncertain global economy with volatile financial markets.
One of the most important benchmarks to evaluate the financial well-being of the Plan is its “funding status.” The funding status compares the present value of benefits earned by participants (i.e. “liabilities”) to the Plan’s current assets. The chart below shows that liabilities continue to rise at an increasing rate and the 2008-09 downturn caused a gap between assets and liabilities that recent investment gains and contribution increases have not been able to close.

click the chart to enlarge

(click the chart to enlarge)

Changes in 2014

In light of these circumstances, the WELS Pension Commission (the “Commission”) has taken several actions to improve the Plan’s funding status and maintain its long-term viability:

  • The Commission continues to invest Plan assets in funds with low volatility to protect against future market downturns.
  • The basis schedule on which Plan benefits are calculated for new retirees will remain flat for retirement dates through June 30, 2014 to slow the increase in liabilities.
  • Plan contribution rates effective January 1, 2016 will increase to $3,120 (+11.4%) for a full-time worker in 2016.
  • Contributions not made on time are subject to a late payment penalty.

The late payment penalty has been established to reflect the Plan’s lost investment earnings when payments are not made timely, which ultimately spreads additional costs to the organizations that pay contributions on a timely basis. To ensure that your organization in not assessed a penalty, we are providing a new Automated Clearing House payment program, under which the full amount due for each quarterly invoice will be automatically deducted from your organization’s bank account on the first business day of each quarter. Details regarding this program and the late payment penalty are available by clicking this link.

In this way, all parties are walking together and sharing in the funding needed to reinforce the Plan. This funding will be essential to pay the meaningful benefits promised to current retirees and earned by active workers. Your continued support of the Plan during these challenging times is greatly appreciated.

If you have questions regarding the Plan, please feel free to contact the WELS Benefit Plans Office by e-mail to [email protected] or by calling 414-256-3860. Questions specifically regarding the late payment penalty should be directed to the WELS Benefits Service Center by e-mail to [email protected] or by calling 1-800-487-8322 (option 1).

Revised WELS Veba HIPAA privacy notice published

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was implemented in order to protect the rights and information of health plan members and improve certain operations in the health care system.

The WELS VEBA Group Health Care Plan (the “Plan”) provides health benefits to eligible WELS/ELS workers and their eligible dependents. The Plan creates, receives, uses, maintains and discloses health information about participating employees and dependents in the course of providing these health benefits. The Plan is required by law to provide notice to participants of the Plan’s duties and privacy practices with respect to covered individuals’ protected health information, and has done so by providing to Plan participants a Notice of Privacy Practices, which describes the ways that the Plan uses and discloses protected health information.

WELS Pension Plan changes announced

The Normal Retirement Age of the WELS Pension Plan (the “Plan”) will be raised to align more closely with the Social Security normal retirement age for benefits earned beginning January 1, 2014.

Important Note: The new normal retirement age will not modify or reduce any benefits earned by participants through December 31, 2013. This change is prospective and will only affect benefits earned for service performed on or after January 1, 2014.

The complete packet of information sent to all active participants is available by clicking this link.