When I was a solo pastor in my mid-20s I had a meager health insurance policy that had never been used. Then came an unexpected hospitalization. It wasn’t long. It wasn’t serious. It wasn’t very expensive compared to today’s sky-high hospital bills.
I showed my card to the hospital account clerk and a claim for payment was filed. About two weeks later I received a form letter from the insurance company stating that the claim was denied. There was a feeling of panic. My wife and I were barely making it financially, and there was no way we could pay a hospital on our own. I was scared.
The insurance company had made a mistake. We finally got it straightened out, and the policy paid the bill. But I still can feel the emotions of that rejection.
Today I have excellent health insurance through a group policy. I don’t worry about it anymore. But I am concerned for my fellow pastors across America who can’t afford private health insurance or are otherwise denied.
Even though some pastors have private policies they aren’t portable — they can’t switch them to another state if they are called to another church. The pressure is on to decide between the call to a new ministry and maintaining health insurance coverage for a son or daughter who would be denied in another state.
While the Congress and nation debate all the different options I pray for pastors to be included in tomorrow’s health insurance coverage. For their sake. For the sake of their families. For the sake of their call.
This article originally appeared in the NAE Insight.