Health plans

Kansas Farm Bureau Health Plans Address Critical Farmer Need

For farming families nationwide, health insurance coverage and health care costs have long been one of their biggest annual expenses – and one of the biggest threats to staying in. business, as farm incomes drop and insurance costs skyrocket. Diving deeper, a survey of farmer members of the Kansas Farm Bureau showed that 8% of them bought their own insurance, with annual premiums ranging from $ 30,000 to $ 40,000 for extremely high franchise plans. with very low coverage. Another 8% of members were uninsured because they could not afford coverage.

To help alleviate the difficulties farmers and ranchers have with insurance coverage, the Kansas Farm Bureau began to investigate how they could provide higher levels of health care coverage at a lower cost, explained Terry Holdren, CEO. / General Counsel of KFB. The organization also wanted to make sure it met members’ basic needs for regular doctor visits and other types of routine care.

Ensuring that members could access affordable care beyond state borders was also important. To help control their costs, many insurers are limiting their networks to local providers, resulting in astronomical costs for farmers who have been referred to specialists in neighboring states.

“Agriculture and ranching don’t stop at the state border, nor do farmers and ranchers’ business models,” Holdren said.

The first step was a state legislative effort launched in 2019 to gain the power to offer health care members benefits that are defined as “no insurance” and to allow for consideration of health issues. health through an underwriting process.

A third-party study indicated that premiums for a non-Affordable Care Act plan, which KFB sought to offer, thus requiring legislative approval, would be about 30% lower than an ACA level premium. These substantial savings were a key point in gaining support.

Members of the Kansas Farm Bureau have also played a pivotal role in the advocacy effort, several of them sharing testimonies with policymakers about not being able to afford blanket or having a spouse working out. of the farm just for insurance benefits.

When their bill was enacted in April 2019, the Kansas Farm Bureau began developing plans together with its partners at FB Health Plans in Tennessee. There are four options for coverage through the Kansas Farm Bureau Health Plans: one for individuals and families under age 65; a short-term plan for people who are in between jobs or need coverage for 60 to 90 days for other reasons; a dental / vision package that policyholders can use to supplement any type of coverage; and a health insurance supplement plan.

After a year and a half of activity, KFBHP protects more than 10,000 Kansans. With an average monthly premium of $ 383, the plans save most families between $ 1,000 and $ 1,500 per month. And the plans attracted 1,800 additional members in the first year.

For Kansas Farm Bureau member Erica Schlender, joining the plan allowed her to stop teaching and helping her parents full time on the family farm in Harvey County. Before having access to KFBHP, it would replace the teachers in order to be able to maintain at least partial medical coverage.

“It gives me the chance to do what I want to do with a living,” she said. “I am not tied to a job because of Medicare. “

And the coverage is even better.

“Even when I was teaching, the coverage wasn’t as good,” Schlender said. “With that, I have dental care and vision and they cover my contacts.”

Kansas Farm Bureau Health Plans won the Kansas Farm Bureau a 2021 New Horizon Award from the American Farm Bureau Federation. The award, which recognizes state agricultural offices with the most innovative new programs, is presented each year at the AFBF’s annual convention.

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