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Farmers, ranchers and rural residents in general may see little or no change in where, how and what they pay for insurance following implementation today of the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Exchange.
Roberta Riportella, the Kansas Health Foundation’s professor of Community Health at Kansas State University, says farmers may be more likely to be insured than others in the U.S. population since their work is hazardous.
“Purchasing health insurance and disability insurance is viewed by many farmers as essential elements in protecting their family farms,” Riportella said.
They may also face higher insurance premiums, according to Barbara O’Neill, an Extension specialist in financial resource management at Rutgers University. “Because premiums in the individual health insurance market are rated based on the individual’s own risks, they have been exceptionally high for farmers,” she said. The new law, she added, makes it more likely that “farm families will be able to purchase less expensive coverage. Tax credits are available to help the smallest employers (less than 25 employees) pay for the cost of employee health insurance.”
O’Neill said the mandate for large farms (more than 50 employees) to provide health care coverage is currently delayed. So fines, which could be as much as $3,000 for every employee, will not be imposed until January 2015.
Riportella shared three tips to help farm families make decisions about insurance coverage for themselves and their employees:
- Compare the cost and features of your current insurance with those in the new insurance ‘marketplace.’ State-based navigators and insurance agents can assist farmers in making decisions on personal insurance. “If you are considering insurance for your farm business, consult an insurance broker, employment law attorney, certified financial planner or others you trust,” she said.
- Consult with a professional farm advisor to develop an action plan for the business.
- Allow enough time to shop around and select insurance coverage that is both affordable and adequate.
Additional information to help farmers make decisions is available on the government’s official website, www.healthcare.gov. Riportella also maintains a blog that she is using to provide information regarding emerging topics on health reform: https://blogs.ksre.ksu.edu/issuesinhealthreform/.