This morning the Access Project, a nonprofit resource center based in Boston, Massachusetts, released a report that states that the cost of health insurance is a large and direct contributor to the financial problems of the average American farmer.
Cheryl Tevis, Farm Issues Editor of Successful Farming magazine, brings us her breakdown of the report today on the Agriculture Online website:
The report is the second in a series intended to inform the debate on health care reform. The first report showed that although the majority of farm and ranch operators have insurance, the triple-whammy of high deductibles, premiums and out-of-pocket costs leaves them under-insured when it comes to annual physical exams and preventive care...These findings are no surprise as they simply confirm what various studies have said about other demographics here in the United States, namely that the cost of health care is receding further and further from the reach of the average American, and that even if you are covered that is no guarantee that your coverage is up to the task if you face a major medical situation. The difference here is that most of the studies done so far focus on urban populations as opposed to rural ones.
"Family farmers and ranchers struggling to maintain their operations are not well served by the current health insurance marketplace," says Carol Pryor, lead author of the report and senior policy analyst at The Access Project. "We found that those purchasing coverage directly on the individual market pay the highest premiums for coverage that often leaves them financially exposed."
The study produced several interesting results, among them were the following:
- Among those paying high premiums for insurance those with high deductibles paid 22% more than those with low deductibles.
- Factoring in age and health families buying insurance in the individual market rather than through an employer spent over $4,000 per year more on premiums
- For many the average overall health care expenses run between seven and eighteen percent of their yearly income.
SOURCE: "Health care costs slamming farm families: Study finds new measures needed to control costs" 12/19/07
photo courtesy of miheco, used under this Creative Commons license