Study: Include health insurance in risk management, rural development programs | TheFencePost.com

Study: Include health insurance in risk management, rural development programs

Farmers are so worried about crop insurance that the next farm bill should include health insurance in the programs offered by the Agriculture Department's Risk Management Agency and the Rural Development mission area, according to a study published Monday in Choices, the journal of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

The scholars who wrote the story noted that a survey they conducted showed that three-quarters of farmers (74 percent) said "the USDA should represent their unique needs in national health insurance policy discussions."

"The 2018 farm bill presents a new opportunity to integrate health, access to healthcare, healthcare costs, and health insurance into the RMA and RD initiatives that work to promote a vibrant and resilient farm sector," the scholars wrote.

"RMA programs traditionally focus on crop insurance as a way to manage risk, but there is an opportunity to expand how risk is framed to include health, healthcare costs and access, and health insurance," they continued.

"Moreover, there is an opportunity to account for age-specific health insurance needs that change along the life course by accounting for the varying needs of young farm families with young children, those who are middle-aged, and those over 65.

"The USDA has made substantial efforts to recruit a new generation of farmers and ranchers. To ensure returns on this investment, it is critical to consider the interplay between national farm policy and healthcare policy. RD initiatives could account not only for the number of jobs created in rural areas but also the quality of those jobs, including the provision of health insurance benefits, to support efforts to build a more vibrant and prosperous farm sector and rural economy," the study said.