Portico Benefit Services

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Portico Overview

Portico is a nonprofit ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that provides benefits relating to health, retirement and other services for its members and members of other faith-based organizations


  • Portico is a nonprofit ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that provides benefits relating to health, retirement and other services for its members and members of other faith-based organizations.
  • The establishment of the ministry, formerly known as ELCA Board of Pensions, took lace two hundred years ago. The main objective behind its establishment was to support pastors and their families.
  • Recently, the needs of their members have evolved and, as a result, the ministry has changed the delivery and design of its products.
  • Its vision is to be a recognized leader in promoting a healthy life style and to achieve financial security.
  • The ministry has 230 staff members serving over 7,000 congregations and organizations. It also provides benefits through partnerships with other nonprofit entities.
  • ELCA has over 50,000 members led by Jeff Thiemann, the CEO and president. The members make use of the benefits offered by the ministry during their working and retirement years.
  • This is consistent with its efforts to empower the members to live well and enhance the lives of others. According to Manta, the ministry generates approximately $160.77 million in revenue.


  • The vote by the ministry’s board of trustees to approve its 2017 contributions set the ministry on the growth path. (Source 2)
  • It brought about innovative changes designed to reduce the cost of healthcare. Besides, its wellness reformation has led to the introduction of new ways of delivering health benefits.
  • Since 2017, the ministry’s primary plan members have had access to care coordinators who have helped members use health benefits while making considerations to cost and quality.
  • Therefore, its growth and recent successes are attributed to the decision to build a 1% discount into its rates, anticipated savings and renegotiation of the contract of drug prescription.\
  • The ministry is faced by slow adaptability to change, limited resources for new technology and the difficulty in communicating new ideas to the average members and employees.


  • The different regional coordinators make decisions regarding sales and marketing in their respective regions. Some of the regional coordinators are Andrea Arey, Jenifer Prinz, Barbara Debski among others.
  • Andrea Feller is another key decision maker in charge of customer service.
  • His position as a Customer Care Resolution Analyst makes him responsible for the development of strategies to promote the effectiveness of service to members. He also works directly with members to resolve issues relating to the lack of satisfaction among members.
  • The president and CEO, Jeffrey D. Thiemann, and Chief Operating and Financial Officer, Stacy A. Kruse, as well as the board of trustees, are some of the key decision makers within the organization.
  • The COO has supervisory roles that are based on the structure of the organization while the president and CEO develops objectives and operating strategies for the ministry.
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Benefit Services Competitive Landscape

Portico Benefit Services offers health, flexible spending, retirement, disability, and life insurance plans to enhance the well-being of rostered ministers and lay employees that serves through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other faith-based organizations. Concordia Plan Services on the other hand, provides benefits for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod organizations, including schools, universities, congregations and other ministries worldwide.


  • Portico Benefit Services (Portico), a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), is a non-profit provider of health and retirement benefits with related services solely designed to help plan members of the ELCA and other faith-based organizations live and serve well throughout their ministry and their lives.
  • Portico Benefit Services provides health, retirement, disability, and survivor benefits and related services for approximately 50,000 active and retired ELCA members and other faith-based organizations live and serve well throughout their ministry and their lives.
  • Their ELCA Pension and Other Benefits Program:
    • ELCA Health Benefits Plan that includes medical and mental health, dental, prescription drugs, support services, personal wellness account and wellness programs.
    • ELCA Flexible Benefits Plan are Health flexible spending accounts (FSA), dependent (day) care flexible spending accounts (FSA), health savings accounts (HSA), and limited-purpose flexible spending accounts (FSA), which can be used to pay for eligible expenses.
    • ELCA Retirement Plan that sponsors employers and eligible plan members contribute to save money for plan members’ retirement.
    • ELCA Disability Benefits Plan provides eligible disabled plan members a monthly income, health benefits, life insurance, and retirement account contributions.
    • ELCA Survivor Benefits Plan is a life insurance to help plan members’ beneficiaries with financial obligations in the event of a death.


  • Portico Benefit Services strive to empower their members to live well through physically, emotionally, and financially and believe that by living well as whole people of God, they can better enhance the lives of others by making Christ known for the sake of the world.

    • By helping employees navigate the challenging landscape of multiple benefits and healthcare options more effectively, Portico Benefit Services increases their satisfaction and improve their outcomes.
    • Real-time employee guidance also improves overall benefits utilization and significantly lowers costs for employers and are very much aligned with the consistent results the company have achieved for their clients for the past 20 years.
    • Portico manages over $8 billion in assets and has a responsible stewardship of these assets which strengthens the health plan, helps ELCA retirement plan members grow their savings, ensures regular annuity payments, and supports the ELCA’s socially responsible investing priorities.
    • Portico invested in thousands of companies nationally and around the globe and leverages ELCA retirement plan assets to create positive corporate change while maintaining its fiduciary responsibility.
    • The implementation of the Affordable Care Act and subsequent political dynamics, resulted in volatile health insurance exchanges that did not provide a level of consistency and support that was initially expected by Portico Benefit Services.
    • Although Portico provided stable benefits package together with resonating the members of the organization, the need for flexibility became apparent as congregations adapted to accommodate part-time rostered ministers, expanded roles for lay employees and decreased resources.
    • Net assets available for plan benefits decreased from $7,815,236 in 2017 to $6,831,052.
    • The plans include investments that, in general, are exposed to various risks like interest rate risks, market risk conditions, and credit risk. It is possible that exposure to these and other risks could materially affect investment valuation, participants’ account balances, annuity amounts, and other amounts reported in the financial statements.


    • Concordia Plan Services of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) through the Concordia Plans, caring congregations, schools, and other special ministry organizations provide workers and their families with excellent comprehensive employee benefits including health, retirement, disability, survivor and specific resources for ministry.
    Concordia Plan Services Products and Services :
    • Concordia Financial Planning and Retirement Plans includes:
      • Retirement Plan or the Traditional Option of the Concordia Retirement Plan (pension) is designed for workers who will have long-term careers with LCMS employers.
      • The Concordia Retirement Plan 403(b) provides two savings options so you can choose the best tax deferral option for you. The pre-tax savings option offers lower taxable income today, while the after-tax Roth option allows you to have tax-free income in retirement.
      • Concordia Health Plan Medicare Coverage is available to post-65 retirees who are enrolled in Medicare Parts A or Hospital Insurance and Medicare Parts B or Medical Insurance.
    • Wellness Plans which includes Physical, Financial and Emotional Services:
      • Physical Solutions includes Diabetes Solutions, Weight Management, Heart Health, Grand Rounds, Silver Sneakers, Maternity Wellness and Education.
      • Financial Wellness that includes Personal Statement of Benefits (PSOB) is a snapshot of financial benefits, including projected retirement income. The PSOB also shows the value of benefits as a part of overall financial wellness.
    • The Concordia Health Plan is different to other health insurance. This trust covers LCMS worker claims, including missionaries across the globe and high-risk ministries, so that brothers and sisters in Christ can continue to serve.
      • Members and Employers have the option to choose from partnered service providers like Blue Cross, Cigna, Kaiser Permanente and UMR among others.
    • Concordia Disability & Survivor Plan provides a monthly income benefit to make sure that the financial burden of the world doesn't distract from the ability of their workers to recover.
    • Accidental Death and Dismemberment and Supplemental Life Insurance Plan Services help workers with immediate and long-term needs, coping with life changes difficulties, to help handle the practicalities of a difficult situation so that workers of the LCMS are able to focus on their spiritual well-being during those times.
    • Concordia Plans Services benefits and services not only provide financial protection and peace of mind in times of need, but also offer a wide range of support and encouragement for the well-being of its church workers.
    • Since 1965, Concordia Plan Services has been protecting the future of the workers of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS).
    • Concordia Plan Services has their Customer Relationship Survey to collect member and employer feedback in order to carefully analyze the data to understand where the company is meeting customer needs and the improvement efforts that are needed.
    • They also have Co-Creation Workshops and Education Research for an in-depth understanding of customer needs in identifying the biggest obstacles to saving for retirement as well as some potential solutions that would help them overcome those obstacles.
    • Concordia Plan Services is committed to outreach and introducing new opportunities to interact with those they serve which results in a wealth of meaningful feedback that helps to increase their understanding to meet the needs of their ministries and members.
    • N/A

    Research Strategy:

    After an extensive search, the research team was unable to provide weaknesses for Concordia Plan Services although the details on each organization's product and service offerings and value proposition were basically available on their website. We were able to find information on their products and services, history and other helpful knowledge about benefit plans the organizations offer. We also checked their Annual Reports to summarize their strengths and weaknesses. For what we couldn't find, we implemented three strategies for finding the requested information.

    We began our research on each organization's website and found information about an overview of their product and service offerings and value proposition. From there, we also searched for Concordia Plan Services' newsletter and blog posts possible weaknesses but most of the details on their websites was their products and services, their advocacy, service providers, team in the organizations, careers in the organization, among others.

    We also checked for Concordia Plan Services Annual Report to look for negative financial results of the organization, but their annual report yielded a positive outcome of their finances and we found no weaknesses based on their financial status.

    Next, we then searched for third party sources in order to look for weaknesses for Concordian Plan Service from credible articles, blogs, and other research like Guide Star, Charity Navigator among others but did not find any weaknesses for the organization. Most of the data from their website was about the organization benefits plan, services, advocacy among others. We also looked for the website of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), since Concordia Plan Services offers benefits to LCMS organization. We intended to look for publications, newsletters, case studies or reports for Concordia Plan Services to look for weaknesses of benefit services but to no avail. Most of the data in the LCMS website is about social issues, conventions, resources and service opportunities among others.

    Lastly, in order to find weaknesses of Concordia Plan Services, we tried to look for information that can be used as proxy data point by looking for the different users and tools used in securing customer relations survey done for Concordia Plan Services. The objective was to triangulate the required information thru proxy or parallel data points. The data points included were Concordia Plan Service benefits, from health plans, retirement and death & disability benefits among others into evaluating plans for the future for these benefits services. We also tried to look for information for bigger organization component, but the specific segment of benefit services' weaknesses was not available. We also checked the Concordia Plan Services social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube to find customers sentiments or negative reactions to posts relevant to their benefit services as weaknesses to Concordia Plan Services but found none. Most posts are about their services to communities, steps in choosing the health plans options, news and customers stories which did not yield any negative comments or reactions to their posts.

    Weaknesses for Concordia Plans Services may have limited availability for the reason that the organization would not disclose such data of survey reports done, or the organization would not let negative comments on their social media accounts be seen or disclosed or any organization has not conducted any research, or they may not have made it public for internal reasons.