State Farm is working to join a successful health insurance program
State Farm is working to join a successful health insurance program

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State Farm is working to join a successful health insurance program

State Farm is working to join a successful health insurance program

The Indiana Farm Bureau says the health insurance plans they’ve offered to members for more than three years have helped fill a huge need.

Megan Ritter of the Indiana Farm Bureau says they did about 18 months of research before offering their health plans and found that farmers needed affordable options. “And of those we asked, 48 percent of those farmers under the age of 65 said they had not sought treatment for a health condition because of the cost.” Ritter says the same study showed that health care costs affected nearly 80 percent of the agricultural business of their members.

Health Plan Manager Steve Allen says Indiana is entering its fourth year of offering coverage and nearly 4,200 plans are tied to 8,800 covered lives. He says Indiana Farm Bureau’s four health insurance plans have not only helped longtime members, but attracted new members. “Of 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 President Garrett Hawkins remains optimistic the General Assembly can still take action this session. “The Missouri General Assembly is coming up on spring break, so we hope to be at the top of the charts when legislators return.”

Hawkins says this issue is a top priority for their members. “We certainly won’t give up. One prime example, we have members who have committed to being at the Capitol one day a week every week in session to talk about our number one priority, which is improving access to affordable health care in Missouri.

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

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

In Nebraska, Legislative Bill 1313 was a priority bill for Senator Robert Dover and is now preparing for final reading. Bruce Ricker of the Nebraska Farm Bureau says the Brownfield Dover bill has strong bipartisan support. “Out of 49 state senators, he has 44 of the senators who co-sponsored our bill, so I think we’re in good shape, but we’re not counting the chickens until they’re hatched.” Riker says he’s confident that Gov. Nebraska Rep. Jim Pillan will sign the bill if it reaches his desk. “He’s a farmer himself, a pork producer, sympathetic to some of the needs.”

Ryker says the Nebraska Farm Bureau has already begun preparing to offer health coverage as early as this year if the state allows it. “What I’ve heard so far is that they have a goal or the goal is to have it ready by the time open enrollment starts this fall.”

Audio: Bruce Raker of the Nebraska Farm Bureau discusses progress in the Legislature on their health coverage bill with Larry Lee of Brownfield

Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Jason Mugnaini tells Brownfield that their efforts have been unsuccessful this legislative session, so Assembly Bill 860 and Senate Bill 811 are dead for now. “A lot has happened this legislative session with (electoral) maps, 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 much, too late.” Mugnaini tells Brownfield that before reintroducing the bill next session, the Farm Bureau will work with lawmakers to codify some common practices for health coverage. “I think like making sure we cover people up to age 26, making sure , that there are no changes to insurance after a claim, just little things that we already do that we’re willing to put into state statute to ensure that there’s continuity over the long term with Farm Bureau health plans.”

Audio: Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Jason Mugnaini 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 Farm Bureau can offer health coverage.

Leaders from Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin say if they fail this time, they will push for support in the next legislative session.

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

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