MANHATTAN, Kan. – America’s farmers have important decisions
to make – both for their families and for their employees – with the Affordable Care Act which went into effect Oct. 1.
“On the whole, farmers are more likely to be insured than
the rest of the U.S. population,” said Roberta Riportella, the Kansas Health Foundation’s professor of Community Health at Kansas State University.
“This is not surprising given that farm work is hazardous
with many potential occupational injuries. Purchasing health insurance and
disability insurance is viewed by many farmers as essential elements in
protecting their family farms.”
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is now
federal law that requires all Americans to have health insurance. One provision
of the law is set up as a ‘marketplace’ through which individuals can make
decisions on what’s best for them.
“Because premiums in the individual health insurance market
are rated based on the individual’s own risks, they have been exceptionally
high for farmers,” said Barbara O’Neill, an extension specialist in financial
resource management at Rutgers University.
The new law, O’Neill added, makes it more likely that “farm
families will be able to purchase less expensive coverage.”
A challenge for farmers, however, is that many will have to
make insurance decisions for their families and their business.
Farms with less than 50 employees will not be required to
provide insurance, and thus won’t face government penalties, O’Neill said.
But, she adds, “tax credits are available to help the
smallest employers (less than 25 employees) pay for the cost of employee health
O’Neill added that a mandate for large farms (more than 50
employees) to provide health care coverage is currently delayed. So fines, which could be as much as $3,000
for every employee, will not be imposed until January 2015.
Riportella shared three tips to help farm families make
decisions about insurance coverage for themselves and their employees:
- Compare the cost and features of your current
insurance with those in the new insurance ‘marketplace.’ State-based navigators
and insurance agents can assist farmers in making decisions on personal
insurance. “If you are considering
insurance for your farm business, consult an insurance broker, employment law
attorney, certified financial planner or others you trust,” she said.
Consult with a professional farm advisor to
develop an action plan for the business.
Allow enough time to shop around and select
insurance coverage that is both affordable and adequate.
Additional information to help farmers make decisions is
available on the government’s official website. Riportella also maintains a blog that she is using to provide information regarding emerging topics on health reform.
K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.
Story by: Pat Melgaresmelgares@ksu.eduK-State Research & Extension News
Roberta Riportella is at 785-532-1942, or firstname.lastname@example.org