Farm Bureau offers new health insurance plan
LINCOLN – Members of the Nebraska Farm Bureau have rolled out the first of its kind Association Health Plan for Nebraska Farmers, Ranchers and Agribusinesses.
Steve Nelson, President of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, said many farmers and ranchers are in the individual marketplace when it comes to health insurance. They’ve also seen increasing out-of-pocket costs over the past several years along with fewer choices for medical care.
“During tours of the state, our members have consistently told us that many families are struggling to provide health care for themselves and their families,” Nelson said. “One spouse or the other often needs to find a second job that offers health coverage so they can afford to pay for it.”
Tom Schwarz is the President of the Farm Bureau’s newly formed Employee Insurance Consortium.
“Rather than stand around and complain about health care like everyone does, we decided to find a way to help solve the problem,” he said.
The Farm Bureau plan will be administered by Medica Health, a non-profit health insurance company based in Minneapolis, serving about 1.5 million members across the Midwest.
“When everybody else in the health insurance business abandoned Nebraska, Medica stood with us,” Schwarz said. “We hope to build up this program to be an even bigger and stronger plan that saves people money and improves the health care of thousands of Nebraskans.”
Geoff Bartsch, Vice President of Individual and Family Business with Medica, said their company is committed to Nebraska for the long term and to be the trusted health plan choice.
“This is only the beginning of a long-term partnership with the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation,” Bartsch said. “Our role is to help provide good health care options for Nebraska farmers and ranchers. That’s what we’re excited to be a part of.”
The Nebraska Farm Bureau Health Plan is a set of exclusive products only sold by Farm Bureau agents within Nebraska. The plans are compliant with the federal Affordable Care Act and are available to all eligible Farm Bureau members regardless of health status or pre-existing conditions.
The member health plan should help lower health insurance premiums to farmers and ranchers by an average of 25 percent and five percent for those in agribusiness, based on current federal exchange levels. Of course, premiums will vary based on age and geography.
Rob Robertson, Chief Administrator with Nebraska Farm Bureau, said their health insurance products will be sold across the state exclusively through Farm Bureau agents.
“Farm Bureau members are eligible if 50 percent of their gross income is from farming or ranching,” Robertson said. “Agribusiness that provides essential inputs or services to agriculture are also eligible if 50 percent of their gross income is directly from production agriculture.”
Members that joined the Farm Bureau prior to July 2018 are eligible for the Health Plan in the first offering. This year’s open enrollment period is from October 1 through December 1, 2018. Health coverage will begin January 1, 2019.
“Once Medica gets its first year of history with this plan; we see the potential of it getting more affordable all the time,” Robertson said. “Employers that qualify for the plan can then offer it to their dependents, employees and employees’ dependents.”
Farm Bureau members are urged to contact their local agent, who will help determine eligibility and type of coverage at different price levels.