May 22, 2024

Indiana Farm Bureau Health Plans: Benefiting future generations of farmers

Protecting future generations of family farms is among the many reasons why Indiana Farm Bureau set out to provide health benefits to its members.

Many of the stories INFB heard over the past several years include countless examples of young farmers deciding not to return to the family farm because of the lack of affordable health care coverage. Many of them find a career within the agriculture industry, away from the family farm, in large part, for the health coverage. If they choose to return to the farm, they might have to take a second job off the farm for health benefits or completely forgo coverage altogether.

This is the problem INFB is trying to solve. Traditional Health Plans will be an affordable option for farmers — under the age of 65, and their families — helping them return to the family farm and continue the agricultural legacy-built generations ago.

Two INFB members, Tom Milligan from Vermillion County and Vickie Mitchell from Delaware County, won’t qualify for Traditional Health Plans due to their age, but are thankful INFB is addressing the health benefit issue faced by many families in agriculture.

Tom Milligan, 67, and his wife, Sandy, were row crop farmers, retiring after 40 years as small business owners. Fortunately for them, they always had health coverage, but the process wasn’t easy. Milligan understands the value of INFB providing affordable health benefits to protect the future of the industry.

“Every year, even as healthy adults, we’d shop around for different plans because the prices would exponentially increase,” said Milligan. “It was becoming difficult and burdensome to switch plans year after year. One blip in our health care status forced us to an expensive plan with a very high deductible. This meant we had to self-insure for most of our health care.”

“Those were some of the struggles we faced as a family, which is why I’m very appreciative of Indiana Farm Bureau addressing the issues with affordable health coverage. The health plans will benefit young farmers the most and I hope it helps get them back to the farm,” Milligan added.

Vickie Mitchell, 68, and her husband have a 117-acre livestock operation. Mitchell, a retired nurse, has heard stories of farmers who work off the farm solely for the health benefits that come with employment. She believes INFB Health Plans will help young farmers stay on the farm and inspire future generations to become farmers.

“Sadly, I believe all farmers, at some point in time, have either worked off the farm for health benefits or decided to live without health coverage because of the cost,” said Mitchell. “I believe INFB Health Plans will be a great option for current farmers, young farmers and future generations of farmers. Young farmers — whether our children or grandchildren — will be able to come back and build upon the operations we and many other farmers have built.”

Traditional Health Plans will include a broad range of options to suit just about every health coverage need. The plans will offer different ranges of coverage, out-of-pocket payments, deductibles and preventable health benefits.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, farm and ranch families comprise less than 2% of the U.S. population. With that in mind, INFB Health Plans will help address the concerns associated with adequate and affordable health coverage for Hoosier farmers today and tomorrow.

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Brady Hagerty is public relations manager-public policy at Indiana Farm Bureau.