February Healthcare Highlight: Farm Bureau Insurance Plans

By Miranda Spindt

In Wisconsin, 312,000 people are without health insurance, many of which lack affordable options to get coverage. In 23 of our rural counties, residents only have one or two options on the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace where premiums rose 151% on average between 2013 and 2019. This leaves some of our citizens with no choice but to risk going completely uninsured.  

However, an innovative solution has emerged – Farm Bureau Health Plans. These are medically underwritten plans, from catastrophic to complete coverage, that can be provided to Farm Bureau members at much more affordable prices compared to typical insurance plans. However, states must pass legislation to allow the Farm Bureau to offer such plans. Farm Bureau plans in Tennessee, which were codified in 1993, have premiums and deductibles that can be up to 77% and 79% cheaper, respectively. Their plans include coverage for prescription drugs, preventive care, and options for maternal, dental, vision, or telehealth coverage.  

What sets Farm Bureau Plans apart is that anyone can join the Farm Bureau, regardless of their occupation, and then apply for coverage. In Wisconsin, annual membership dues range from $50 to $65 per year, making it an affordable option for a broad demographic. 

Because Farm Bureau plans are exempt from typical insurance regulations, applications are accepted on an individual basis which takes medical history into account. However, nine out of ten people are accepted, and preexisting conditions are typically covered after a set waiting period. Farm Bureau plans may not be for everyone, but they can provide a lifeline for many. In Iowa, 83% of those covered by the Farm Bureau would otherwise go uninsured. 

In the face of Wisconsin’s healthcare challenges, the Farm Bureau Health Plan stands out as a viable solution. Six states – Tennessee, Iowa, Kansas, Indiana, South Dakota, and Texas – have passed legislation to authorize Farm Bureau Health Plans. Wisconsin could be the next state to do so this session with Senate Bill 811 introduced by Senator Testin. As Wisconsin considers ways to address its healthcare disparities, recognizing and supporting a Farm Bureau Health Plan could be a crucial step towards a healthier future for all residents. 

Miranda Spindt

Miranda Spindt

Policy Associate

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