Catholic Religious Now Facing "Participation Audits"

You may be like many religious orders who, in the last few weeks, have received forms from their insurance providers with titles such as "Common Ownership Certification" and "Employer Information Form." These forms require you to answer challenging questions and provide information about controlled organizations and about your "employees."

The Catholic Church deals with unique issues, and generally a boiler-plate form will not capture the complexity of the Church.  Church business managers struggle with questions such as:
  • Does the college, outlining ministry, retreat house, etc., which is not on the order's insurance, need to be counted? 
  • Does it make a difference if the sponsored ministry is separately incorporated?
  • We have religious and lay on the same plan, do we have to call religious 'employees' on this form?
  • They are on separate plans, how do we answer this?
  • What if we do not file a Federal Form 941 (quarterly wage and tax) for the religious but we count them as employees for insurance purposes?
  • What is the IRS test for controlled groups when it comes to the Church?
  • What is considered an "affiliated entity"?
  • We have some sisters/brothers/priests on the religious plan at some locations and on lay plans on others, how are they counted?
  • Who is responsible for answering these for multiple groups?
  • What can happen if we do or do not count people we should?
The ACA has littered the health insurance landscape with landmines for Catholic Employers.  One misstep on these forms can have grave consequences for an employer.  
For example, the language directly from one of these forms requires that employers "understand that any misrepresentation or fraudulent statement may result in the rescission of the group policy, termination of coverage, and an increase in premiums retroactive to the policy date, or other consequences as permitted by law."  What would happen if your group health insurance were terminated and you were now forced to pay for all the claims you amassed since you signed these forms?     
As many of you know, Burri Insurance has been on the cutting edge when it comes to controlled group testing and IRS/DOL/ACA compliance for years. We have also worked with more carriers than any other broker that works exclusively for the Catholic Church. We have been able to answer these forms in such a way that it satisfies the carriers' needs and still conforms to the needs of the Church.
If you have recently received one of these forms, or something similar, from your carrier and are struggling with responding, please feel free to reach out to us.  We are happy to help.  For more information about Control Groups, please visit Catholic Legal Update Volume 3.  
God Bless,
Robert Smedley
Burri Insurance
630 Brooker Creek Blvd. Suite #315
Oldsmar, FL 34677
(813) 818-7600 ofc
(813) 818-0700 fax
(727) 698-8141 cell
The forms are easy enough for most employers.  As you know however, the Catholic Church is not "most" employers.