Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Entrepreneurial UUA

The UUA created a successful, self-sustaining, surplus-creating health insurance company.


I don't know all the details of the story, but I have heard it recounted by Jim Sargent and others who are close to the history. The UUA risked a portion of its endowment, sought out top-quality experts in the health care insurance business, devised a sound business plan, hired competent and professional staff and sold it aggressively to UU congregations.  It has been successful, even though the health insurance business is notoriously difficult.  It falls short of a national single-payer health plan, but it works.

The work solved a problem that posed a significant risk to our ministry, congregational staffs, and many of our local congregations.

Today, there is much talk about other needs of local congregations that could be more efficiently met. My colleague, Cindy Landrum, calls for a "relentlessly useful UUA." She and others talk about the UUA providing back office services to congregations: centralized payroll, bookkeeping and accounting, member databases, web services, graphic resources, and more. Such centralized services could be sold to congregations and help focus their volunteer energy and other resources on their ministries.

But such improvements seem like impossible pipe dreams. After all, money is tight and the staff is stretched. Never gonna happen.

But remember, we created a health insurance company that works for us, when no other health insurance company was willing to cover us. And that should give us a model and some confidence that we could do what we need.



1 comment:

Steve Cook said...

What?! An institutional UUA success story? Imagine if we were to hold that up within our habitually self-castigating circles at least to the same extent that we focus relentlessly on our failures and shortcomings. Too challenging? Doesn't fit our narrative? Self-insurance plans not glamorous and "sexy" enough? Too focussed on ourselves? Just askin'.