Do Priests Have Health Insurance?
As a member of the clergy, do priests have health insurance? The Archdiocese oversees the health plans for priests and has an insurance department. Clergy receive information about these plans when they receive their faculties and annually during the Open Enrollment period. Clergy in full-time ministry are reimbursed for covered medical expenses. Still, the reimbursement is limited if the doctor is not on the plan's preferred provider list or if the physician uses non-preferred medicines. If a priest needs to seek care from a physician, they must file a Schedule SE with the Internal Revenue Service.
Depending on the size of the church, group health insurance may not be an option. Churches often have limited budgets, and health insurance plans may require a certain percentage of their employees to participate. As a result, if there is not enough coverage, the church will be unable to offer full coverage. Additionally, not all plans are appropriate for all employees. Many small churches do not have health insurance plans for their clergy for these reasons.
The Affordable Care Act has placed the responsibility for contraception coverage on health insurers. These policies are a good choice for clergy who support life. Catholics value the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. However, some clergy do not receive health insurance because of their beliefs. Clergy are obligated to support their congregations, and the ACA makes it easy for them to do so. That's why they should consider purchasing group health insurance.
Archdiocesan priests in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles receive a monthly contribution from their salary. Archdiocesan priests are also reimbursed for their auto insurance as part of their pension plan. The Archdiocese also offers a priests' pension plan for retired priests. The Pension Plan also covers senior priests' auto insurance, which is important for continued assistance in the ministry.
Some churches offer group health insurance plans to their pastors, but more denominations are dropping coverage as the premiums are too high. Smaller independent churches, however, are not able to afford these policies. Visiting clergy can also purchase such policies through the federal or state marketplace or brokers. However, such policies have many complications. If the clergy does not want to pay for group health insurance, they can look for a plan with lower premiums.
While diocesan priests are required to pay into the Social Security and Medicare systems, eligible externs must join them. Those who don't participate in Social Security and Medicare are considered self-employed for Social Security/Medicare purposes. In addition to advancing their wages, their source of salary should reimburse them for their quarterly self-employment tax payments. As the priest's source of income, they are also responsible for Social Security and Medicare payments.
While diocesan priests earn an annual salary, most are paid through bonuses, housing allowances, or stipends. In addition to salaries, many priests also receive free housing from the religious community they serve. Some use a rectory linked to the parish. In some cases, priests are unable to purchase health insurance for themselves.