For many Americans, access to quality and affordable health care is a basic concern. However, many farmers and ranchers face a number of unique obstacles when it comes to accessing and paying for health insurance coverage. American rural farming communities face higher rates of unemployment, poverty and chronic health issues than their counterparts in urban areas. Coupled with the risky nature of their lives, it becomes all the more important to acquire quality and effective health insurance that is also cost-effective.
The Current Status
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, limited access to affordable health insurance is a major concern for US farmers, a risk factor that is overlooked yet it affects the farmer’s ability to successfully run their farming and ranching activities. In one particular study, the bigger section (92%) of ranchers and farmers interviewed indicated that in 2016, they had health insurance although it was often from other sources besides farm employment.
Although in America only about 25% of the total farm household income is actually generated from the farm, it comes as no big no surprise that health care concerns of the US farmers differ little from what you would expect from other Americans in general. However, while nearly 50% of Americans get their health insurance through their employers, often food and dairy producers are self-employed which forces them to seek coverage options independently.
So, what options are available for the American farmer and rancher when it comes to health insurance?
Federally Supported Programs
Low-income farm families form part of the 11.5 million Americans enrolled in different federally supported health insurance coverage exchanges. They also count among the 15.7 million who have been added to Medicaid since 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. Thirty-one 31 US states plus the District of Columbia have taken advantage of the federal-state cost-sharing option under ACA to accept enrolments (Medicaid) from all households that have incomes below 138% of the FPL.
Before you consider the ACA option for your health insurance needs, it is, however, important to keep yourself abreast of the changes being enacted by the Trump Administration. The new administration has, for example, given states more leeway to revisit the mandatory health benefits that were previously guaranteed to consumers buying ACA-supported insurance plans. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) is ultimately going to replace the ACA as we know it today weakening its benefits considerably.
Mixed-Source Health Insurance
In another survey, 32% of the farmers contacted reported having two or more health insurance plans running concurrently within a single family. For example, it’s not uncommon to find insurance plans sourced from different sources such as employer-based insurance for one adult, while the other adult is on marketplace-purchased insurance and Medicaid for their children.
Private Health Insurance
For those farmers and ranchers in need of affordable health coverage, private health insurance is an option, and websites like HealthCoverageFast.com provides such coverage with a few questions and in minutes you can get affordable health coverage that meets you or your family’s needs. With many plans and carriers to choose from, you can be rest assured that there is a health plan that suits your needs. You can get qualified here.
The Way Forward
In the US, farming is ranked by the CDC among the leading dangerous occupations with an injury rate that is 40% higher than the one experienced by all workers. The recently passed Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 seeks to address the challenges facing farmers and ranchers. The Act is offering new opportunities for integrating health and cost issues into the Rural Development (RD) and Risk initiatives. This is a welcome move for US farmers and ranchers considering the fact that the US is experiencing an aging and shrinking farm population.