When shopping the open market consider your family’s current and upcoming needs, such as major surgeries or the birth of a child. In addition, see what subsidies you might be able to use.
“When looking for subsidies you’re eligible for, make sure your calculations are based off your net income, not gross income,” says Shoshanah Inwood, assistant professor of community, food and economic development at The Ohio State University. “Ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask questions, health insurance is really complicated.”
Three-quarters of farmers recently reported affordable health insurance is a critical way they reduce business risk, according to a recent study at the Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis at NORC, University of Chicago. About 50% of farmers say they aren’t sure they could pay the cost of illness or injury without going into debt.
The same study showed that 45% of farmers are concerned they’ll have to sell farm assets to address health-related costs such as long-term care or in-home health assistance. Without insurance, Overby says he is afraid of what would have happened to the farm.
About 24% of farmers shop the open market, out of 92% who have health insurance coverage, according to NORC’s study. Many farmers have family who work off farm to help with insurance.
Certain states expanded Medicare coverage, which might present new opportunities to certain farmers. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), in 2016 average spending for a person with Medicare hit $5,460 out-of-pocket. That average includes those residing in long-term care facilities—about 5% of all beneficiaries on traditional Medicare.
For Medicare recipients not in long-term care, KFF pegs the average out-of-pocket spend at $4,519 in 2016. Half of all traditional Medicare beneficiaries spend at least 12% of their total per capita income on health care. Traditional Medicare beneficiaries are people over 65 or younger people who have a long-term disability.
In 2017, KFF reports that Medicare spending accounted for 15% of total federal spending and 20% of total national health spending.