May 21, 2024

Indiana Farm Bureau Health Plans a new option for coverage

Aaron and Lacey Sheller are farmers from Hamilton County. Aaron is a seventh-generation farmer and Lacey is a sixth-generation farmer. Together, they continue to adapt and grow their operation, which includes raising non-GMO waxy corn, seed soybeans, cattle and swine, and selling meat, seed and fertilizer.

With so many issues impacting farmers and agriculture as a whole, the Shellers have managed to build a successful operation to support their family and local community. Unfortunately, there is one issue that remains consistently challenging for them as sole proprietors: access to affordable health benefits.

Farming full-time has always been the goal for the Shellers, but acquiring health benefits for their family has pulled them away from the farm at different times. Lacey, in particular, spent several years working at the county hospital as an exercise specialist — not for the income, but for the health insurance. That’s because one of the only ways for them — and for many other farmers — to obtain health benefits is to find an off-farm job.

As the Shellers’ operation continued to grow, they were in a place to provide a health benefits package for their family and for their employees. But when the Affordable Care Act went into effect, their premiums doubled, and at that point, the Shellers were priced out of the market completely.

Due to the increase in cost, the Shellers had to terminate their health insurance plan for their family and for their employees, which led to a 100% employee turnover. After they terminated their health insurance, their biggest challenge was finding affordable health coverage for their family.

Today, the Shellers utilize a faith-based, cost-sharing program. It’s not a contract; payment is 100% at the program’s discretion. The Shellers are thankful for the cost-sharing program, but the uncertainty and weighing every medical visit and expense is especially difficult with young children.

That’s why they are so supportive of Indiana Farm Bureau Health Plans, a new benefit providing members of all ages with affordable and competitive rates for medical, dental, vision and even Medicare Supplement coverage.

The Shellers played an important role in testifying in front of Indiana lawmakers during the 2020 legislative session in support of Senate Enrolled Act 184 — the law that allowed INFB to move forward with offering high-quality, more affordable health benefits to its members.

Sadly, the Shellers’ story is a common one among those involved in agriculture. A survey conducted in 2019, found that 78% of Hoosier farmers said the cost of health care was impacting their business, and 48% under the age of 65 chose not get treatment for a health condition because of the cost.

Indiana Farm Bureau Health Plans was created to fill a health coverage gap in the agriculture industry and rural community — those who are sole proprietors, those who work on farms, agribusiness professionals and rural entrepreneurs with fewer than two employees.

Members will be eligible to apply for Indiana Farm Bureau Health Plans on Oct. 1, with health benefits taking effect Jan. 1. Applicants must be members of Indiana Farm Bureau for at least 30 days in order to apply.

The Shellers, like many other farmers, have asked for an alternative option to the health care marketplace, and Indiana Farm Bureau Health Plans is that option. They understand the plans won’t cover everyone and rates will vary based on individual situations, but believe INFB Health Plans will help many farm families today and protect future generations of farmers.

Over the next several months, AgriNews and Indiana Farm Bureau will be publishing a five-part series showcasing Indiana Farm Bureau Health Plans. More information about INFB Plans can be found here: