NEFB works to lower health costs for farmers and ranchers; Unveils new large group Association Health Plan
LINCOLN, Neb. – For the first time, individual farm and ranch families in Nebraska will have the opportunity to join Nebraska Farm Bureau’s (NEFB) new large group Association Health Plan and avoid the higher cost of premiums in the individual health insurance market.
NEFB has announced the formation of a new large group AHP for its farmer, rancher and agribusiness members and a new partnership with Medica to be the carrier of health insurance products within the AHP. It will be officially marketed as the “Nebraska Farm Bureau Member Health Plan” and qualifying NEFB members can sign up for this more affordable health coverage during an Oct. 1 to Dec. 1, 2018 open enrollment period.
“I don’t think there has been a group of individuals hurt more by the high cost of health insurance than farm and ranch families. By establishing this new AHP for our qualified members, we know it will help cut costs associated with health insurance premiums,” NEFB President Steve Nelson said.
Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and those who work in agribusiness, have faced significant challenges with increasing costs tied to individual health insurance. In fact, nearly 400 farmers and ranchers who took part in NEFB’s listening sessions across the state this summer said the affordability of health care, health insurance and access to both, was one of, if not the highest issue on their list of concerns.
“The last couple of years we have heard stories from farmers and ranchers about the high cost of health insurance for their families. When farm and ranch families in Nebraska are facing $25,000 to $40,000 per year for health insurance premiums, the financial stress on those family operations are extremely high, very emotional, and can easily impact whether they can stay in the business of agriculture.” Nelson said.
This is why NEFB established a new consortium of qualifying NEFB members, creating the Nebraska Farm Bureau Member Health Plan. The Nebraska Farm Bureau Employee Insurance Consortium was created to sponsor and to manage the Nebraska Farm Bureau Member Health Plan and to help comply with state and federal laws for AHPs. The consortium has partnered with Medica to provide this new health insurance option, which is a way to lower health insurance premiums by grouping farmers, ranchers, and certain agribusinesses so they can be in a larger more risk stabilizing pool, Nelson said.
“We have listened to the concerns of farmers and ranchers and believe this new AHP will present a great opportunity and we think the only opportunity of Nebraska farmers and ranchers to form a large risk group to help lower premiums,” Nelson said.
The consortium is led by a seven-member board of employer members of NEFB located throughout the state. President of the consortium, long-time Farm Bureau member Tom Schwarz of Bertrand, Neb., knows that the cost of health insurance has been a real emotional and financial strain in agriculture the last several years.
“I am looking forward to seeing how much my family will save from this plan. As far as my own farm operation, we have literally lost employees because I could not offer them health insurance benefits because of their high costs. We think the opportunities created by this new Association Health Plan will give farmers and ranchers like me some opportunities to lower health insurance costs and recruit and retain employees. I certainly look forward to helping NEFB and the consortium develop these new and more affordable health insurance products,” Schwarz said.
Medica has developed coverage options, premiums and other provisions for the Nebraska Farm Bureau Member Health Plan. They are working with Farm Bureau agents to sell the new and exclusive health care products. Farm Bureau agents will be available to help resolve benefit questions or issues and provide ongoing support to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Member Health Plan.
“We are delighted to bring another health coverage option to the farmers and ranchers in Nebraska because it gives them a greater say in their health plan choices moving forward,” said Geoff Bartsh, Medica vice president of individual and family business. “Nebraskans can be confident that the Nebraska Farm Bureau Member Health Plan will meet their needs and that Medica will continue to be in the state, earning their trust every single day.”
The Nebraska Farm Bureau Member Health Plan is a regulated AHP and is a fully insured product through Medica that provides consumer protections. It is available to all eligible NEFB members regardless of health status. If you are interested in learning more about the Nebraska Farm Bureau Member Health Plan contact any Farm Bureau Financial Services agent.
“We welcome Nebraska farmers, ranchers or agribusinesses to join our organization and take advantage of the opportunities of our Association Health Plan in the years ahead,” Nelson said.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots, state-wide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service and advocacy efforts. More than 61,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit http://www.nefb.org.