Dear Westside Congregation,
This year, I am serving in the role(s) of Past President and Treasurer. Since many of you primarily know me from RE or from Board President work, you might not know that my secret super power is spreadsheets, and that one of my happy places is crunching away at numbers on my computer in my basement. By profession, I am a health insurance actuary. The German word for Actuary is Versicherungsmathematiker, which literally means “Insurance Mathematician”. During my board presidency last year, I often found myself jotting down notes of stories I thought were relevant to the current situation, from swimming competitions to marathons to mowing the lawn. The one thought I jotted down and never got to share was “lessons we can learn from insurance.” Finally, as treasurer, I get to let out my inner insurance nerd!
I came about this career by nature (good at math) and by nurture – I grew up with an insurance claims adjuster as a father who later became the claims secretary of the oldest mutual insurance company in the South. We were told insurance stories at the dinner table. We listened to radio shows about insurance. I learned about Lloyd’s of London when I was in elementary school. Insurance was a great, wonderful thing that provided people with financial security at a very low cost. People could pay a minimal amount of money each month, and if something catastrophic happened, the pooled funds would be used to help the few that needed it. Health insurance has roots here in the Pacific Northwest, when loggers would contribute part of their paycheck to a pool of money used to assist with injuries or sickness in the logging camps.
Insurance is great and wonderful and works, when everyone contributes. If you have health insurance through your work, you have to buy it or provide evidence that you’re covered through another policy. When the Affordable Care Act was passed, you might have remembered the individual mandate being a big deal. The challenge was, in the individual market, there wasn’t an employer mandating anything, so there was significant risk that people who didn’t think they were going to use enough to make the cost worth it would opt out, and the result would be that rates would go up unsustainably for everyone else (can you imagine what your car insurance rates would be if the only people buying car insurance were those that expected to need it?).
At Westside, we are pooling our money to support a minister, a music director, a DRE, an extraordinary administrator, talented musicians, our building, and programs to nourish our spirits, expand our minds, and build a more just world! Everyone’s individual contribution matters, and as we all collectively contribute, the more sustainable it is for each of us. We are the pool! No other entity contributes toward our financial picture other than us and the tenants of our building. So as we look around at each other, know that we are all making this happen together.
In love, in money, in insurance, and all things spreadsheets,
Shelley Webb, WSUU Treasurer