“We survive without outside income [from a second job], but we don’t have health insurance—it is one of the hard things for small farmers.”
One prominent need, quoted above and voiced at the Monadnock Region’s 2010 Farm Focus Group discussion, is access to affordable and dependable health care insurance for farmers and farm workers. However, this need is not unique to our region or state, but a nation-wide issue:
- Farmers spend twice as much as non-farmers for their health insurance coverage.
- More than 30% of farm families have individual health care policies, a percentage four times higher than the national average, which tend to provide less coverage with higher premiums and out-of-pocket expenses compared to group healthcare policies.
Are There Solutions?
Wisconsin has implemented one possible solution – creating a health care cooperative for farmers.
Farmers’ Health Cooperative of Wisconsin is touted as the first health insurance plan created by farmers, for farmers and run by farmers. Two-thirds of the cooperative’s members experienced an increase in their health benefits and half had a decrease in their health insurance premium costs. Another 30% said there was no change in cost from their previous health insurance policy to their current cooperative option. This program was created through “Co-op Care” Legislation developed by the Cooperative Network, an alliance of cooperatives in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
View the Farmers’ Health Cooperative’s Video (.wmv file).
Are there other solutions, either in the development or implementation phase, that are addressing farmers’ affordable health insurance needs?