State Farm Bureaus Work to Join Successful Health Care Coverage Program – Brownfield Ag News


State Farm offices work to join a successful health care coverage program

Indiana Farm Bureau says the health coverage plans it has offered to members for more than three years helped fill a huge need.

Megan Ritter with Indiana Farm Bureau says they did about 18 months of research before offering their health plans and found farmers needed affordable options. “And of those we asked, 48 percent of farmers under the age of 65 said they hadn’t sought treatment for an illness because of the cost. Ritter says the same research showed that the cost of health care affected nearly 80% of its members in agricultural companies.

Health Plan Manager Steve Allen says Indiana is entering its fourth year of offering coverage and nearly 4,200 plans are linked with 8,800 covered lives. He says the Indiana Farm Bureaus’ four health coverage plans have not only helped longtime members, but attracted new members. “Of the members who joined in 2023, approximately 37% joined solely for the purpose of obtaining a health plan.

Six states currently offer Farm Bureau health coverage to members. Tennessee has offered health coverage since 1947. Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Texas, and Indiana also offer health coverage.

Audio: Indiana Farm Bureau’s Megan Ritter and Steve Allen discuss their program with Brownfield’s Larry Lee

Missouri, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are seeking state legislative approval to offer health coverage. State Farm Bureau leaders are running out of time to convince state lawmakers to allow the organization to offer health coverage.

In Missouri, Farm Bureau Chairman Garrett Hawkins remains optimistic the General Assembly can still take action this session. “The Missouri General Assembly is coming up on its spring break, so hopefully when legislators come back, we’ll be at the top of the register.

Hawkins says this issue is a priority for his members. “We’re certainly not going to give up. A good example, we have members who are committed to being at the Capitol one day a week every week during the session to talk about our number one priority, and that’s improving access to affordable health care coverage in Missouri.

Hawkins says Missouri lawmakers will have to choose whether to side with real people with a real need or side with big money.

Audio: Missouri’s Garrett Hawkins updates Legislature on Farm Bureau health coverage with Brownfield’s Carah Hart

In Nebraska, House Bill 1313 was a priority bill for Senator Robert Dover and is now being readied for final reading. Bruce Rieker with Nebraska Farm Bureau says the Brownfield Dovers bill has strong bipartisan support. “Of the 49 state senators, he has 44 of the senators signed on as co-sponsors of our bill, so I think we’re in good shape, but we’re not counting any chickens until they’re hatched. Reiker says he’s confident Nebraska Gov. , Jim Pillen, would sign the bill if it reaches his desk.“He’s an agricultural producer himself,” a hog producer, sympathetic to some of the needs.

Reiker says Nebraska Farm Bureau has already started preparing to offer health coverage this year if the state allows it. “What I’ve heard so far is that they’re setting a goal, or they have a goal of having it ready by the time open enrollment comes this fall.

Audio: Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Bruce Reiker discusses the Legislature’s progress on its health coverage bill with Larry Lee of Brownfield

Jason Mugnaini with Wisconsin Farm Bureau tells Brownfield that their efforts were unsuccessful this legislative session, so Assembly Bill 860 and Senate Bill 811 are dead for now. “There was a lot to do with (electoral) maps in this legislature, and this was a big proposal and it came later in the session because we wanted to make sure we got it right, and I think it was too. too late. Mugnaini tells Brownfield before reintroducing the bill next session, the Farm Bureau will work with lawmakers to codify some common health coverage practices. “Think about how to make sure we cover people up to age 26, making sure that there are no post-claim insurance changes, just little things that we already do that we’re willing to put into state statute to ensure that there’s continuity over the period. long term with Farm Bureau health plans.

Audio: Jason Mugnaini with Wisconsin Farm Bureau gives an update on health coverage legislation to Brownfield’s Larry Lee

States must have statutory authority or an exemption from existing insurance law before a Farm Bureau can offer health coverage.

Leaders in Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin say if they are unsuccessful this time, they will seek support in the next legislative session.

The Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, was enacted fourteen years ago today. Many rural regions have limited plan options, few medical providers, and high costs.

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