March 23, 2020
The Pension Boards is beginning its second week of remote operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week witnessed the continuation of rapidly changing conditions in both global health and fluctuations in the global economy. At the Pension Boards, we have long been committed to working in ways that are agile, consistent, and conversant. I am pleased to report that this commitment, which informs our organizational culture and operations, has allowed us to adapt quickly and effectively to meet your needs. The collective effort of the entire Pension Boards staff enables us to keep our business operations going smoothly.
As this update was written, New York State (where our main offices are located) announced that all workers in nonessential business are required to stay home starting at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern), Sunday, March 22. Staff will continue to work remotely as per our Business Continuity Plan, and we anticipate no changes to the way we have been functioning over the past week.
Transparency is important to us. We will continue to send you updates weekly – or more frequently, if the need arises – and encourage you to be in touch with us at 1.800.642.6543 if you have any questions or need assistance. As I wrote in my previous message, serving you remains our main priority – now and always. We are grateful for your ministry, and for your trust in us.
Wishing you peace and good health,
Brian R. Bodager
There are a number of essential services that require onsite presence. While the Pension Boards’ offices in New York and Cleveland remain closed at present, a small number of colleagues have been coming into the office during the week on a rotating schedule to ensure that these services are handled efficiently and without interruption. Remaining staff members are successfully working remotely, and responding to inquiries by phone, email, and online chat. Over the past week, our Information Technology and Member Services departments implemented a Softphone system that allows us to remain fully present to members and employers. Please see more information on Member Services operations below.
While our plan has been for the offices to remain closed for up to three weeks, any new directives issued by state and local authorities may require us to reevaluate the length of the closure. We will keep you apprised if and when circumstances change.
Please continue to mail your monthly invoices and checks directly to our bank, Northern Trust, 75 Remittance Drive, Suite 1592, Chicago, Illinois 60675-1592.
In recent days, your health care provider(s) may have contacted you to cancel an existing appointment. While some individual providers are rescheduling non-essential or elective procedures at present, know that all your UCC health coverage (health, pharmacy, dental, and vision benefits) remains in place, with no discontinuation or interruption in service. Our vendor/partners, who administer the Plans on behalf of the Pension Boards, are committed to providing access to medical, pharmacy, dental, and vision services as necessary.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there are two important services available to health plan members that can be accessed remotely.
Teladoc (24/7 access to virtual medical visits)
Teladoc, our vendor partner for telemedicine/telehealth services, offers consultative assistance for colds, flu, and minor health concerns. This service is available to participants in the UCC Non-Medicare and Medicare Supplement Plans. The customary $10 copay for this service is being waived during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to be directed to the Teladoc website. You may also call Teladoc at 1.800.835.2362.
Note: Due to unusually high volume, you may experience a delay in response to your request for assistance.
We encourage you to register and set up your account now, so that all essential information is on file for you should you need to contact Teladoc. Download the Teladoc app for your mobile device from the App Store (Apple iOS) or Google Play (Android).
Health Advocate Member Assistance Program
Health Advocate offers no-cost, confidential professional support, information, and educational materials to UCC Non-Medicare Plan members. Click here to log in to the Health Advocate website or call 1.877.240.6863. Download the Health Advocate mobile app at the App Store or Google Play.
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield
If you need care, and do not have a primary care physician, visit Highmark’s online Find a Doctor service for help in locating one near you. Download Preparing for the Coronavirus, an informational flyer from Highmark.
If you have any questions, or experience any problems with your health coverage, please contact us at 1.800.642.6543.
We have seen an increase in requests for emergency assistance as members and the ministry settings in which they serve feel the financial impact of the pandemic. Emergency Grants are available to:
If you are facing a critical financial need requiring assistance and meet the eligibility criteria described above please contact your Conference staff, who will then reach out to our Director of Ministerial Assistance to begin the process.
Please be assured that our full Member Services staff team is available as before to support you. Our call center team can take your calls, answer any questions you may have, and can be reached at 1.800.642.6543 as well as by using the online chat function on our website, www.pbucc.org. Our new Softphone platform enables us to provide enhanced, timely service by routing incoming phone calls directly to each representative’s computer.
Our business continuity plans ensure that your monthly payments will continue without interruption. Northern Trust, as administrator to the Annuity Plan for the United Church of Christ, has robust contingency plans of its own, and has provided detailed plans to customers such as the Pension Boards.
Please contact Member Services’ call center at 1.800.642.6543 if you need assistance or have any questions concerning your annuity payments.
In this volatile environment, our Investment Team is monitoring the situation, responding quickly, and collaborating internally and externally. All of our management practices and processes are intact. Please click here for answers to frequently-asked questions about how our in-house investment staff, external managers, and investment consultant are responding to the current market environment.
Regular updates from our investments staff will be emailed to members and posted on the Pension Boards’ website, as well as on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we conduct meetings. We are still considering options for how to hold the 2020 Pension Boards Annual Meeting of Members, and will provide more information as those plans unfold. By now, you should have received your meeting notice and ballot in the mail. We encourage you to take advantage of the online voting portal to vote for your proxy representative to the annual meeting and for Trustees: https://vote.associationvoting.com/pbucc/. Your vote will be recorded and your voice will be heard. (Please note: You will need your seven-digit Pension Boards Member ID number in order to vote online.)
You may have seen recent communications from Conferences and the National Setting of the church announcing cancellation of upcoming events and restrictions on staff travel, to contain the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the health and safety of both staff and members. Similarly, all non-essential travel by Pension Boards staff has been suspended. Staff are available to participate in meetings remotely by Zoom videoconferencing, as needed. Please contact us if you would like to schedule a Zoom presentation by a Pension Boards staff member.