Insurance Update
March 2015
Issue No. 55         
In this issue

Identity Theft  

Arm yourself with information against identity theft



About Us 

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 A not-for-profit ministry of
Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust Inc.

Church of the Brethren Insurance Services provides dental, vision, basic life and accidental death & dismemberment, supplemental life and ad&d, dependent life and ad&d, retiree life, long-term disability, short-term disability, and Medicare supplement coverage for eligible ministers and other employees of congregations, districts, and camps. Dental, vision, retiree life, and Medicare supplement coverage is also available for eligible retirees of congregations, districts, and camps.


Medical and ancillary plans are available to Brethren-affiliated employer groups.


Long-Term Care Insurance is available for all members of the Church of the Brethren, their family and friends, and employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities.  
Contact Us 
1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120

Did you know it took a ruling by the Supreme Court in 1893 to officially declare the tomato a vegetable? Since March is National Nutrition Month, it seems like a good time to review some fun facts about all our favorite delicious, nutritious fruits and vegetables, including the fruit that became a vegetable, but only in the United States. Read about it here. 


Another topic with its roots in government is the Affordable Care Act. Mixed interpretations surrounding recent rulings prompted us to put our heads together to find a way to funnel important information about the ACA to our members. The result is BBT Alert, a means of quick, to-the-point news notes that provide members with important updates that we have learned. You can read more about this below.


We often hear about companies experiencing data breaches that impact customer data, such as the one that recently occurred at Anthem. You can catch up here with the latest news on identity theft, and get valuable tips on steps to take if you think your information has been compromised.


As winter draws to a close, we hope you are in good health and looking forward to the arriving spring and all its glory. 

Lynnae, Tammy, and Connie
fruitsandveggiesMom was right: We should eat our fruits and veggies 

Did you realize that people who eat seven or more portions of fresh fruits and vegetables each day may reduce their risk of dying from a wide variety of diseases by as much as 42 percent? People have been consuming fruits and vegetables over the entire course of human history. We eat them raw, cooked, chilled, frozen, and in ever-creative combinations with other foods. We drink them in juices and even use them as seasoning. And, as it turns out, they're mostly good for us. Read on for some fascinating and educational fun facts about our favorite and not-so-favorite fruits and vegetables.


1. There is no such thing as negative calorie foods.

There is a long standing myth out there that you can eat some fruits and vegetables that require more calories to digest than they actually give. Unfortunately, this is not true. There is a metric called Thermal Effect of Food that measures how many calories are used to digest food. Generally speaking, it's only about 10 to 20 percent. So if you apply the TEF to a stalk of celery, which has between six and 10 calories, the celery still gives you eight calories even after digestion. Now you know!


2. Banana s are the bomb.

Bananas are a favorite fruit around the world. They taste good, are high in potassium, come in their own protective wrapper, and though they don't need refrigeration, are still delicious when frozen. The banana also has an interesting history. In the 1950s, a disease called the Panama Disease nearly decimated an entire species of banana, which motivated farmers to use the Cavendish banana -- the one we all eat today. The bananas we eat are actually all cloned from a single banana plant in southeast Asia, which means that every single banana is exactly the same banana. Another fun fact -- bananas are technically herbs.


3. Fruits and vegetables are nutritious in every form.

There's a wildly popular rumor that frozen veggies and fruits aren't as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. This simply isn't true. Studies by the FDA have confirmed that any decrease in nutrition from freezing fruits and vegetables is negligible at best. So you can enjoy them fresh, frozen, or even in a drink, and you'll get the same benefits! Do keep in mind when shopping for fruit juice that it should be 100 percent juice. You might see the small print on some brands showing only 10 percent fruit juice, which is obviously not as nutritious.


4. Fiber is not just for grandma.

You may have guessed this already, but do you know the benefits of fiber to your body? Fiber can help maintain bowel health, it aids in lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure, it lowers blood sugar, and it lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease. A high-fiber diet also makes you feel full longer, which is a plus if you're trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.


5. Maybe Snow White swallowed a seed?

Yes, some fruits and veggies contain toxic chemicals. The most widely known is cyanide, which is found in low levels in the seeds of apples, in the pits of apricots and peaches, and in the cassava root. Potatoes can sometimes contain a toxin called solanine, though rarely enough to cause harm. A green hue is generally a sign that solanine is present in a potato, and farmers now grow them in a specific manner to keep this toxin low.  


6. The world's least favorite vegetable is one of the best for you.

In many countries around the world, Brussels sprouts reign as the least enjoyable vegetable. What you likely don't know is that Brussels sprouts just might be the most nutritious veggie around. They are packed with vitamins and minerals, have virtually no calories, no fat, no cholesterol, and they are very filling. Here's a tip for those of you who have had bad Brussels sprouts experiences in the past -- overcooking causes not only an unpleasant color, but also increases the sprout's strong flavor and odor. Apparently, when done just right, even school children will find Brussels sprouts yummy. You can try cooking them in a variety of ways that maintain their high nutrition level, including steaming, stir-frying, grilling, roasting, or sautéing. Adding a little butter, parmesan cheese, pistachios, or pine nuts might help, but whatever your pleasure, if you're looking for a healthy green veggie, you should definitely try to develop a taste for these mini cabbages, and pack more of them into your diet.


7. Broccoli contains more protein than steak.

Broccoli got a bad rap when President George H. W. Bush proclaimed that he would never eat it again. An unfortunate confession on his part, because broccoli is actually quite good for you. Aside from being packed full of beneficial stuff like selenium, carotenoids, lutein, and beta-carotene, broccoli in general has a great deal of protein. Calorie for calorie, there is more protein in broccoli than steak. And since broccoli also doesn't come with saturated and trans fats or cholesterol, you can get all the protein you need with a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Of course, if, like the former president, you truly can't stomach broccoli, perhaps you could get your protein from pumpkin seeds, another good choice, and packed with more protein than a similar amount of ground beef.


8. Fresh pineapple is delicious but it can ruin your day.

Believe it or not, this is absolutely true: Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain that can wreck your palate for the rest of the day until your mouth can heal itself. Some people experience a prickly sensation while eating pineapple -- understandable, especially if you know that bromelain is also an ingredient in meat tenderizer! If eating pineapple bothers you in this way, there are things you can do to save your taste buds from it. Let freshly sliced pineapple sit in the fridge for a bit before eating it (this gives it time for the enzymes to break down), or stick to canned or cooked pineapple.


9. Peppers can be lifesavers.

A little known fact about the cayenne pepper is that it promotes the clotting of blood when sprinkled over wounds. According to experts, cayenne pepper on a wound will act as gauze and help stop the bleeding. Eatin g cayenne pepper can also help equalize blood pressure and promote clotting from the inside. That means it promotes faster clotting and healing whether you are regularly eating it as a spice on your food, or literally pouring it on a wound. So remember, if you cut yourself in the kitchen, and you're closer to your spice rack than your first-aid kit, grab the cayenne pepper and stop the bleeding before you go in search of a bandage. And in case you're wondering -- yes, it will sting a bit.


10. Apples give you more energy than coffee.

In no way is it reasonable to think that coffee addicts would ever consider giving up their precious daily fuel injection of dark-roasted liquid energy. However, if you're finding that you run a little sluggish in the afternoon, you might want to consider eating an apple with your morning cup of coffee. Thanks to its high carbohydrate, vitamin, and mineral content, apples create the perfect storm of nutrients to help you stay energized all day.


11. Newsflash -- guess what watermelons are good for?

Watermelons are not only nutritious but, not surprisingly, as indicated by their name, they can also play a key role in keeping us hydrated. OK, maybe you did guess that since it's fairly obvious. In the days before modern plumbing and plentiful access to running water, people used the watermelon as a portable means of hydration. Because it has a thick rind and is 92 percent water, it was the perfect fruit for explorers and desert-faring folks, who brought watermelons along and were assured of a nutritious drink when they needed it. This custom continues in modern day and is why we still consider the watermelon to be an ideal food for picnics, beach visits, and other outdoor gatherings during the hot weather. It may not fit in your pocket or even your picnic basket, but bring a watermelon to the party anyway - not only is there plenty to share, but it serves an important role in keeping everyone happy and healthy!


12. Beware the sinister effect of the grapefruit.

Although very nutritious, grapefruits unfortunately carry a bit of a stigma. Actually stigma may be too mild of a word because grapefruits can actually kill you. This is not an exaggeration, but it is avoidable. Certain medications, when mixed with the chemicals in grapefruit, can cause a reaction that can have potentially fatal results. Generally, mixing grapefruit with many of these meds could cause the effects of the medicine or the side effects to either increase or decrease to dangerous levels. The list of drugs you shouldn't take with or while eating grapefruit is fairly comprehensive and too long to list here. Suffice to say that if you are on a prescription medication, you should be sure to check with a medical professional before consuming grapefruit in any form.


13. According to United States law, tomatoes are vegetables.

If you are a good trivia player, you won't be fooled by the question, "Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?" Because everyone knows the tomato is a fruit. Fruit is classified by the fact that it contains the seeds of its host plant. However, back in 1893, someone in the business of exporting tomatoes noticed that there was a tax on vegetables but not on fruit, and he was wrongfully being charged a vegetable tax on his tomatoes. He sued to recover his money, and the case went clear to the Supreme Court. After all the arguments were heard, the court ruled that, for purposes of taxation, a tomato is a vegetable because that's what people think it is. So when you eat one, it's botanically a fruit but legally a vegetable.


14. The skin usually has the most nutrition.

If you peel your fruits and vegetables before you eat them, you may be making a nutritional mistake. For many fruits and veggies, such as carrots, apples, and cucumbers, a good percentage of the nutrition is actually stored in the skin. That means that if you peel them, you're actually peeling away nutritious benefits. The skins also contain a lot of fiber, and we've already learned all the great benefits of fiber.


15. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories.

You can eat two pounds of vegetables and barely crack 300 calories. This is why you'll hear from nutrition professionals, doctors, and other health-conscious people that fruits and veggies make great snacks. A donut contains saturated fats, oils, and cholesterol. A carrot contains none of those things. You can eat a ridiculous amount of fruit and vegetables with no significant caloric intake. For instance, one stalk of celery is about ten calories, so for a 2,000-calorie diet, you would have to consume 200 stalks of celery. Good luck with that!


16. Onions are ridiculously good for you.

Onions belong to the lily family, but unlike lilies, the scent of onions brings on tears, and eating them leaves you with horrible breath. This is caused by the sulfur compounds found inside. Onions are said to have therapeutic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. In ancient times, onions were used to treat headaches, snakebites, hair loss, infertility, and more. Onions also contain quercetin, a flavonoid that protects against cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and colon cancer. On top of all that, their flavor gives an excellent boost to almost any meal.


17. Purple is the new green.

A new fad among chefs around the industry is to work with purple vegetables. In fact, did you know you can find purple carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, corn, and asparagus? Purple vegetables have anthocyanins. Early studies suggest that this flavonoid has a lot of health benefits: It helps prevent heart disease and some cancers, improves general health, and could even protect your brain as you age. So when you come across purple veggies, don't be afraid to give them a try. Tip: if it's purple fruit you're looking for, you can find anthocyanins in high quantities in blackberries.


18. More often than not, the most nutritious parts end up in the trash.

In most cases, the outside of the fruit or vegetable in question is even more nutritious than the inside. Unfortunately, these parts are not usually very palatable. Take orange peel, for example. It has over four times the amount of fiber found inside the orange. It also contains more antioxidants than the actual fruit. But who wants to eat an orange peel? One way to take advantage of all that nutrition is to grate it up like cheese into an orange zest, and use it as a seasoning. This is how they make orange chicken in Chinese restaurants. Not bad for a part of the fruit that usually gets thrown away.


In conclusion, fruits and vegetables rock.

They're low in calories, high in nutrition, high in fiber, and most of them even taste good. If you're not eating your fruits and veggies, you're missing out on a good thing. Maybe National Nutrition Month is a good time to get on board.


Adapted from The Washington Post To Your Health and Lifehack Lifestyle articles 

BBTAlertHave you joined the BBT Alert mailing list?

The recent hot topic of medical insurance taxability compliance has been challenging for many, including insurance providers and attorneys. BBT has been closely following recent rulings and their interpretation, and passing along what we learn to our members via the BBT Alert. We were also able to use the BBT Alert to let folks know about a recent webinar on ACA compliance for small churches and ministries. This webinar is still available for viewing through our website. Click here to view it.

Let us know you are requesting to be added to the BBT Alert list by sending your name and email address to .
medicalShould Brethren Benefit Trust offer a new medical insurance plan?

In 2007, Annual Conference voted to discontinue the Brethren Medical Plan for staff of churches, districts, and camps, but asked BBT to continue looking for creative ways to find insurance for these folks. Much has changed since then. For example, the old requirement of 75 percent participation at the district level has been removed. With the recent changes to the ACA, we would now like to proceed with a better plan, better positioned to endure and prosper.


BBT is taking the first steps to determine if this is feasible by sending out a survey. The survey will show the size of the pool of possible plan members. The larger the pool, the greater the possibility that BBT can offer a top-grade plan that is competitively priced and rich in features. BBT won't move forward unless the results show that we can offer an excellent plan that will serve members well, long into the future.


A new BBT medical plan could offer simplified access, use of pre-tax dollars (a key tax advantage that was lost to many pastors in 2014), competitive pricing, and portability -- a pastor or congregational staff member could stay in the plan as he or she moves from job to job within the denomination.


The survey was sent out March 2 in print and electronic format to full- and part-time employees of churches, districts, and camps. It is available by clicking on the "We need your input" button above or through and takes less than five minutes to complete. If you are eligible to take the survey, we encourage you to complete it today. 

 LTCILong-Term Care Insurance


We never know how long our health will hold up, especially if we don't eat enough fruits and veggies! Will you be lucky enough to have good health all your life, or will you one day need long-term care? Brethren Benefit Trust can help. We offer Long-Term Care Insurance for all members of the Church of the Brethren, their family and friends, and employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities.


If you are interested in obtaining this coverage, contact Brethren Insurance Services at or 800-746-1505 for a free, no-obligation proposal or click here to request more information.