Come January First, coverage under the Affordable Care Act will be in
full swing for individuals and families signing up now. Farmers we
spoke with say like many other Americans, they're confused about the
Affordable Act and how it will impact them. With many losing their
individual insurance policies they have now, time is running out for
them to make a decision on their health care plans.
Farming is one of the most dangerous occupations there is. "We
know that. We have to have some sort of health care," said Sangamon
County Farmer Andy Goleman. And with harvest underway, farmers have
little time to figure out what to do with their healthcare plan before
the Affordable Care Act goes into effect January first. "It's a really
busy time of the year for farmers right now, but I have got some letters
in the mail from my provider telling me that my current healthcare will
expire December 31st this year," said Goleman.
Like many farmers, Andy Goleman has private insurance with a
large deductible to keep costs down. But because of the expense, many
small-scale farmers don't have insurance at all. And officials with the
Sangamon County Farm Bureau say now those people will have coverage
which could end up protecting their farms. "The expenses that could be
incured for a major medical incident or accident, or something, could be
catastrophic to the point thwere the farm would no longer be viable, it
would have to be sold to pay those bills," said Jim Birge of the
Sangamon County Farm Bureau. Birge says many farmers hire employees or
seasonal help and they will have to follow the same rules for the
Affordable Care Act as other small employers. "They are required to
notify their employees of options within the Affordable Care Act. The
same as any other employer does and that's something they need to do in a
timely fashion," said Birge.
And while we're only two months away from 2014, Goleman says he's
holding out on making a decision on his healthcare plan. "Hang loose
right now. Until we can kind of see if anything is going to happen in
the next month with this healthcare. But my guess is we're going to have
to look at the program, we're going to have to make a decision and I'm
going to have to move on," said Goleman.
Birge suggests farmers seek professional advice before making a
decision on their health care plan. That could mean an accountant,
lawyer, or both.
Under the Affordable Care Act, farm families will be eligible for group rates.