July 23, 2024

Indiana Farm Bureau Health Plans: Filling a health coverage gap in the agriculture industry and rural community

For several years, Indiana Farm Bureau President Randy Kron had consistently heard from members that rising healthcare costs are impacting the financial stability of many family farms.

The cost of health care has become so expensive that many members are left with few options and some even go without coverage — creating a health coverage gap in the agriculture and rural community.

To address the rising costs of health care and close the health coverage gap within the ag community, Indiana Farm Bureau set out to create innovative and high-quality health plans for members.

After receiving legislative approval from the Indiana General Assembly, INFB — in partnership with Tennessee Farm Bureau — began the process of creating Indiana Farm Bureau Health Plans.

INFB Health Plans’ goal is to provide an additional option to the healthcare marketplace for members who are sole proprietors, farm workers, agribusiness professionals and rural entrepreneurs with fewer than two employees, and those who are under the age of 65 and do not receive Affordable Care Act subsidies.

Stories, similar to the ones below, highlight the need for affordable health benefits and were the driving force behind INFB’s decision to pursue this important initiative.

Greg And Mindy Orschell

The Orschell’s healthcare story isn’t uncommon. Greg, 50, is covered by the Affordable Care Act, while Mindy, 47, and their 19-year-old daughter are covered by a faith-based, cost-sharing program.

The Orschells also have two grown children, ages 21 and 23, who want to come back to the farm, but due to the lack of health benefits, have decided not to and pursued other careers in the agriculture industry.

“It’s an unfortunate reality that health benefits drive many of the decisions we make as a family and small business owner,” said Mindy Orschell. “That’s why we are looking forward to the launch of INFB Health Plans. Not only will the plans provide a new option for our family and other farm families to consider, but it’s our hope the new benefit can help bring back future generations to the farm.”

Jill And Jake Smoker

Jill and Jake Smoker are young farmers and have struggled with health coverage both personally and professionally. Currently, Jake is the only one who is able to work full time on the farm.

As much as Jill would like to work on the farm full time, her off-farm job provides the necessary and important health benefits needed for a family with young children.

Furthermore, as small business owners, their employees experience similar challenges. Most of the Smokers’ employee turnover has been due to one issue: affordable health coverage.

“Jill and I are really looking forward to INFB Health Plans as it will be another option we as farmers and a family can consider,” said Jake Smoker, 32. “We are also interested in connecting our employees with INFB. Instead of finding another job with benefits, those who work on farms will also have the access to an affordable and reliable option for health coverage for their own families.”

INFB Health Plans are being developed with affordability and reliability in mind. INFB’s health benefits will function like any other traditional health benefit plan.

Plans will include premiums and deductibles. Most important, it’s a legally binding contract outlining specific coverages based on individual health conditions at the time of application.

Although coverage options and rates will vary due to individual circumstances, once a member is accepted coverage cannot be denied as long as premiums are paid and he or she continues to be an INFB member.

INFB will begin accepting applications in October, with health benefits taking effect Jan. 1. Applicants must be members of Indiana Farm Bureau for at least 30 days in order to apply.

Learn more at infb.org/infbhealthplans.