Insurance Update
November 2015
Issue No. 62
In this issue

Thanksgiving by the numbers 



About Us 
Insurance logo 
 A not-for-profit ministry of
Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust Inc.

Church of the Brethren Insurance Services provides the following products: 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 for eligible Church of the Brethren employees.
Dental, vision, retiree life, and Medicare supplement coverage may also be available for eligible retired Church of the Brethren employees.
For eligibility information, call Connie Sandman at 800-746-1505, ext. 366, or contact your human resources representative.
Medical and ancillary plans (named above) may be 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

Late autumn is a lovely time of year, though for those of us who live where there are four seasons, it may not seem so. The trees have lost their leaves. Frost has set in. We are bringing out our winter clothes. We know harsh weather is coming. Even for those living in milder climates, there is change in the air. So what is good about November?
The answer is holidays. The month begins with echoes of Halloween, which has just happened, and points us forward to two months of heightened activity. We call it "the holiday season." It's a time for food, family, friendship, faith, and gift-giving. It's a time to celebrate. And right in the middle is Thanksgiving. This issue of Insurance Update lifts up the many unique and wonderful things about this very American holiday.
But first let us remind you that we are still in the special Brethren Insurance Services "season" of Open Enrollment. Take a look at the plans we have to offer and the directions for signing up.
May the holiday season ahead be filled with blessings and may you especially enjoy this November and a blessed Thanksgiving.

Special one-time Medicare Supplement open enrollment offered in November
If you missed signing up for Medicare Supplement insurance during the six-month enrollment period that immediately follows your Medicare eligibility date, you now have a one-time opportunity to do so.

Anyone who is an active or retired Church of the Brethren employee (as well as Medicare-eligible spouses), age 65 or over, and enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B may be eligible to enroll. 
You can still get on board!
Open enrollment continues through the month of November.
Get on board with the products offered by Brethren Insurance Services for 2016!  

Medical: Open enrollment will take place in November for currently enrolled Brethren Medical Plan participants. Specific details will be provided by your human resources representative just prior to open enrollment.
Dental: Choose from one of three dental plan options for you or your family. These plans can cover checkups and other preventive services, as well as fillings, oral surgery, and orthodontia. This coverage is offered in partnership with Delta Dental of Illinois.
Vision: Three plan options are available to you and your family through EyeMed Vision Care. These plans offer various levels of coverage for eye exams, lenses, and frames.
Supplemental Life: This insurance is available to members who already have Life insurance coverage through Brethren Insurance Services. This age-rated product is available for up to $50,000 of additional insurance for those who have not yet reached their maximum benefit amount.
Short-Term Disability: Cover the gap between the onset of disability and the start of Long-Term Disability coverage with Short-Term Disability insurance. This plan will pay up to 60 percent of your salary -- up to $1,250 per week.  

For eligibility requirements specific to your employer, please contact your employer's human resources representative. For general information, visit

*For current Life insurance members who are eligible to add up to $50,000 of additional coverage.

Special note:
BBT has been conducting a study over the past several months to determine whether it is feasible to once again provide meaningful and affordable health coverage for our pastors and church employees. Because this is an ongoing process, this is not an option that is currently a part of the November Open Enrollment. But we continue to explore ways to offer this important benefit in the future amidst the changing nature of healthcare insurance that is occurring within the United States. If, in the future, you receive a questionnaire from us either by mail or email, we encourage you to fill it out and provide as much information as possible, as everyone's input is necessary for BBT to determine whether it should once again offer medical insurance for pastors and church employees.
TravelWhy Thanksgiving?

When you think about it, it's pretty nice that we have a national holiday to give thanks. But then, when you think about it some more, you wonder, how much do we really focus on giving thanks on that day? What do we do on the fourth Thursday in November to mark our gratitude? Thanksgiving is a wonderfully rich holiday. Just for fun, let's explore the reasons we gather together on that day.
Because we have always done it! You could say this is the reason -- it's the nature of a holiday. We celebrate it every year because it's on the calendar. It's an institution, established long ago by religious tradition or more recently by government action. There is something in us that likes the tradition, the anticipation, the repetition; knowing there's a day on the calendar when we don't have to work (if we're lucky), when we can eat delicious food (if we're lucky), and when we will be surrounded by people we love (again, if we're lucky). Because we've always done it, it's hard to imagine passing the time between Halloween and Christmas without Thanksgiving.
It's a day for family. Some quick Google research tells us that in 2014 an estimated 39 million U.S. families have members who will travel some distance on Thanksgiving, or approximately 46.3 million people. Although many millions of us fly, it is estimated that 91 percent of Thanksgiving trips are by car, and 56 percent of those drivers will travel at least 100 miles; the average long-distance trip is 214 miles. It's clear family members go to great lengths to get together for Thanksgiving.
But why travel all that distance? Because humans are creatures of connection. Remember the old Broadway song lyrics, "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world." We all need one another. The connections of family and tribe are primal, as old as our species. There are stories, legends, and traditions throughout history that celebrate family, so a holiday, especially one like Thanksgiving, is linked inexorably to family connection, whatever kind of family that may mean.
It's all about the food. And now, of course, we come to maybe the biggest reason for Thanksgiving. Tradition and family aside, you still look forward to a feast. It all began with food, nearly four centuries ago. However, did you know that turkey was not a part of that first Thanksgiving? A story in the Washington Post tells us it was more likely venison.
Today we invest time and money to consume more than 51 million turkeys at Thanksgiving. We spend $2.9 billion on Thanksgiving dinner, an average of $56 per household. It takes more than five hours to cook a stuffed 24-pound turkey at 325 degrees, and if it is a frozen turkey, it takes nearly a week to thaw in the fridge.
Think of the many different and appealing recipes, which include everything from mushrooms to apples and even sausage, just for the side dish that is cooked inside the turkey -- called "dressing" on the first helping, "filling" on the second, and "stuffing" after the third. Speaking of side dishes, according to, Americans consume approximately 80 million pounds of cranberries, and tells us that of the 2.4 billion pounds of sweet potatoes produced in the U.S., each person eats about half a pound at Thanksgiving dinner, which amounts to nearly 160 million pounds. We are already needing to loosen our belt buckles, and we haven't even covered all the other Thanksgiving dinner extras, such as mashed potatoes and gravy, peas, carrots, green bean casserole, squash, and cornbread. It's amazing anyone ever has room for the pumpkin pie.
Or is it all about football? Now let's talk about football. It would probably be a good sign of a healthy nation if we could report that most people went outside and played touch football, but on Thanksgiving 2014, 84 million people were inside celebrating the National Football League in front of the TV. It's questionable whether the mix of non-activity, intense excitement, and high-caloric snacks produces a thankful heart, but there is no question that pro football has a sacred place on the Thanksgiving agenda.
If you are a football lover, you know there is nothing better than the excitement and camaraderie of watching a complex, dynamic, and compelling game with people you love in the comfort of your living room, surrounded by terrific food. However, the online magazine NY Metro Parents offers this observation -- "The football games that dominate the Thanksgiving airwaves do more to break families apart then bring them together," and goes on to suggest ways to make the game fun for the whole family.
There is even a website that offers football alternatives -- 25 things you can do while the game is on -- ranging from volunteering in a soup kitchen to playing board games, to going on a scavenger hunt, to creating a family talent show. That these alternatives need to be suggested at all, points again to the pervasiveness of football on the Thanksgiving holiday, and the great pleasure that many family members derive from it, while others definitely do not.
It is woven into our history. Thanksgiving has a rich and interesting history, and for some of us there is an underlying sense that we are standing in that historical line when we gather around the table and remember grateful pilgrims and friendly Native Americans. But wait! There are some inaccuracies.
The first Thanksgiving in 1621 was not the kick-off to an annual turkey-dinner tradition. In fact, there was no turkey. Sweet potatoes were unheard of at the time, and though there may have been something cooked using pumpkin, it was not a pie. There most likely were cranberries, but not in a sauce. The day did not become an annual tradition for many years. In 1789 President George Washington announced a national day of Thanksgiving, but only for that year. About 70 years later, a very patriotic magazine editor and author named Sara Josepha Hale, after years of campaigning for it, was able to persuade President Lincoln, at the height of the Civil War, to proclaim Thanksgiving as a national holiday -- on the final Thursday of every November. President Roosevelt later moved Thanksgiving up to make the Christmas shopping season longer during the Depression. But no one liked this change, and two years later, in 1941, Roosevelt signed a bill sending the holiday back to the fourth Thursday, where it remains to this day.
Unlike Christmas, Easter, Hanukkah, or New Year's Day, which have centuries of religious or cultural roots, Thanksgiving has a unique American flavor. When we sit down around that bountiful table covered with good things, we know there is a rich trail of culture and custom that brought us there.
It's a time for being thankful to God. The pilgrims were a deeply religious people and their gratitude on that first day of thanks was to God. The food and football-laden holiday of the present seems a far stretch from that day of sober and serious observance. Nevertheless, just by stopping all our activity and enjoying the goodness of food, friends, family, and even football, we are tacitly acknowledging our gratification in the goodness of life. Even in excess there is a seed of gratitude. And in those lovely moments when we transcend all the trimmings and hoopla, and feel our deep connections with one another, we know that the day really is about the spiritual essence of personal gratitude. Of course there is thankfulness in other holidays, but it is an element of a larger reality -- birth, death, resurrection, rescue from oppression, independence. Thanksgiving is the one day when we give thanks for the sake of thanks itself. Maybe that's why it sometimes seems self-indulgent. It's not about something big -- some life-and-death matter. We just stop and raise our glass and fill our plate to God and goodness and life itself. What a cornucopia of good things Thanksgiving is! May it be so for you!
Turkey -- Did you know?

Presidential Turkey Pardon
The President pardons a turkey each year at Thanksgiving?
Click here for the history.
Click here to view the presidential pardon speech of 2014.
Turkey at Thanksgiving
Nearly 88 percent of Americans surveyed by the National Turkey Federation eat turkey at Thanksgiving. The average weight of turkeys purchased for Thanksgiving is 16 pounds, meaning that approximately 736 million pounds of turkey were consumed in the United States during Thanksgiving in 2012.
A bird of courage
Benjamin Franklin, who proposed the turkey as the official United States' bird, was dismayed when the bald eagle was chosen over the turkey. Franklin wrote to his daughter, referring to the eagle's "bad moral character," saying, "I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country! The turkey is a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America."
White vs. dark meat
A turkey typically has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat. White meat has fewer calories and less fat than dark meat. The rich flavor of dark meat is especially valued in soup and stew recipes. Dark meat holds up well in rich marinades and is a perfect choice for grilling and barbecuing.
Turkey in space
When Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin sat down to eat their first meal on the moon, their foil food packets contained roasted turkey and all of the trimmings. One of the dinner options for Commander Christopher Ferguson aboard Atlantis, the last NASA shuttle to fly into space, was smoked turkey and turkey tetrazzini.

For Your Eyes Only
Turkey is listed among the top 10 foods that are good for your eyes because it's rich in zinc (plus the B-vitamin niacin protects against cataracts).

Turkey Feathers and Fluff
It's estimated that turkeys have 3,500 feathers at maturity. The bulk of turkey feathers are composted or otherwise disposed of, although some feathers may be used for special purposes. For instance, dyed feathers are used to make Native American costumes or as quills for pens. The costume that Big Bird wears on "Sesame Street" is rumored to be made of turkey feathers. Turkey feather down has been used to make pillows. For commercial use, turkey skins are tanned and used to make items like cowboy boots, belts, and other accessories.

America Gobbles up Turkey
Turkey consumption has nearly doubled over the past 25 years. In 2012, per capita turkey consumption was 16 pounds compared to 8.3 pounds in 1975. It's easy to see why when you consider the many benefits of turkey.

USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 offer good direction for health. Of particular interest is the principle that advises, "Go lean with protein." This guideline recommends selecting the lower fat options with "lean meats and poultry." Turkey is a perfect choice.

Did you know?
  • Only tom turkeys gobble.
  • Hen turkeys make a clicking noise.
  • Domesticated turkeys cannot fly.
  • Wild turkeys can fly for short distances up to 55 miles per hour and can run 20 miles per hour.
  • June is National Turkey Lovers' Month.
Parts of the above are adapted from
 LTCILong-Term Care Insurance
There may be no better time to think about Long-Term Care Insurance than at the holidays. Thanksgiving is all about family, and LTCI is at least as much about protecting your family as it about ensuring care for yourself.
Despite your best efforts, there is always the chance you could suffer a debilitating illness or a disabling accident. And, of course, if you live long enough, the time will come when you will need some extra care. Long-Term Care Insurance makes sure that you will get the care you need. It assures that your medical bills will not eat up your savings. Finally, and this is one of the best things about LTCI, it protects your children and other relatives from having to use their resources to care for you.
Brethren Insurance Services offers Long-Term Care Insurance for all members and employees of the Church of the Brethren and their family and friends; and also for employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities and their families and friends.
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.