By Erin Petersilie Kansas Agricultural Bureau email@example.com
MANHATTAN — Since its inception, Kansas Farm Bureau Health Plans (KF-BHP) has not increased its general rate for members’ more than 12,000 covered lives.
“We heard how difficult it was for our members to balance the ever-increasing cost of health insurance with the variability of farm incomes,” says Erin Petersilie, Deputy Director of KFBHP. “Our challenge was not only to provide affordable coverage, but also to give our members certainty and control over their healthcare costs.”
Not all health products offer this kind of reliability. Recent research from Kansas State University shows that health insurance costs for Kansas farmers and ranchers have increased more than 80% for families and more than 60% for couples over the past decade.
The study analyzed health expenditures from 183 farms for health insurance costs and medical expenses, broken down by family status as single, couple or family. The average annual cost for a single person under 65 to purchase health insurance was $11,602, while family coverage was highest at just under $15,000.
“Some KFB Health Plans members have reported savings of up to 60% compared to their traditional health coverage,” says Petersilie. “Being able to keep our general rate stable means these savings add up year after year.”
The KFBHP allowed farmers and ranchers to leave jobs they only had to provide health coverage for their families, reinvest in their operations, or open retirement accounts.
“It gives us an affordable price with similar coverage to what we had before,” says user Natalie Boone. “It saves us enough money so that we can easily invest more money in our farm and in savings to meet any major medical needs that may arise.”
In addition to the substantial savings KFBHP offers, members enjoy coverage through a nationwide network of trusted healthcare professionals. Sedgwick County farmer Jeff Winter had an accident on his farm in 2020.
“I was cleaning out the grain silo and went to turn off the auger,” Winter recalled. “My glove grabbed the belt and threw my glove against the wall. It didn’t take long before I realized that I was also missing my right finger on the trigger.
While his father was driving him around town, his wife called a representative from KFB Health Plans to find out which hospital they should use. They learned that the Via Christi St. Francis Ascension in Wichita was part of the national UMR network and headed in that direction. They couldn’t reattach his finger, but as far as his medical coverage goes, there was no problem.
“Everything happened and there were no battles,” he said. “It seemed like everything had gone very well.”
Another benefit of the plans includes free virtual consultations through Teladoc. Additionally, members can choose to add dental and vision coverage if they currently have a plan that doesn’t offer it, and Medicare supplement plans are available for ages 65 and older. KFB health plans are individually underwritten and some plans require a medical exam before being eligible for coverage if applicants are over 40. So far, nearly nine out of 10 applicants have been offered coverage through KFBHP. Unlike insurance coverage through the healthcare exchange, there is no open enrollment period for KFB healthcare plans, so you can enroll at any time.
“We are accepting new members every day,” says Petersilie. “Even if you currently have an exchange plan, I’d be happy to help you compare costs and coverage to see if we can help you save hundreds of dollars each month or more.”
Kansas Farm Bureau membership is required to begin registration. Visit www.kfbhealthplans.com for more information or visit your local Farm Bureau Financial Services Officer.