MANHATTAN — Since its inception, Kansas Farm Bureau Health Plans (KFBHP) hasn’t increased its general rate for the more than 12,000 covered lives of members.
“We heard how difficult it was for our members to balance the ever-increasing cost of health insurance with the variability of farm incomes,” says Erin Petersilie, KFBHP assistant director. “Our challenge wasn’t only to provide affordable coverage, it also was giving our members certainty and control over their healthcare spending.”
Not every healthcare product offers that kind of dependability. Recent research from Kansas State University shows health insurance costs for farmers and ranchers in Kansas grew by more than 80 percent for families and increased by more than 60 percent for couples over the course of the last decade.
The study analyzed health spending of 183 farms for health insurance costs and medical expenses, broken down by family status like single, couples or families. The average annual cost for a single person under 65 to buy health insurance was $11,602, while family coverage was highest at just under $15,000.
“We’ve had some KFB Health Plans members report savings of up to 60 percent compared to their traditional health coverage,” Petersilie says. “Being able to keep our general rate steady means those savings compound year after year.”
KFBHP has allowed farmers and ranchers to quit jobs they had only to provide health coverage for their families, reinvest in their operations or start retirement accounts.
“It offers us affordability with similar coverage to what we had before,” user Natalie Boone says. “It is saving us enough money that we can easily put more money into our farm and into savings to help with potential major medical needs.”
In addition to the substantial savings KFBHP offers, members receive coverage through a nationwide network of health professionals that’s reliable. Sedgwick County farmer Jeff Winter had an accident on his farm in 2020.
“I was cleaning out the grain bin and I went to turn off the auger,” Winter recalls. “My glove caught the belt and threw my glove against the wall. It didn’t take very long before I realized I was also missing my right trigger finger.
While his dad drove him to town, his wife called a KFB Health Plans representative to see which hospital they should use. They learned Ascension Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita was part of the nationwide UMR network and headed that way. They were unable to reattach his finger, but when it came to his health plan coverage, there weren’t any issues.
“Everything went through and there weren’t any battles,” he says. “It seemed like everything went really well with it.”
Another benefit of the plans include no-cost virtual consultations through Teladoc. Additionally, members can choose to add dental and vision coverage if they currently have a plan that doesn’t offer it, and Medicare supplement plans are available for those 65 and older. KFB Health Plans are individually underwritten and some plans require a physical prior to receiving coverage if applicants are over 40. So far, nearly nine out of 10 applicants have been offered coverage through KFBHP. Unlike insurance coverage through the healthcare exchange, there is no open-enrollment period for KFB Health Plans so you can sign up anytime.
“We accept new members every day,” Petersilie says. “Even if you currently have an exchange plan, I’d be happy to help you compare cost and coverage to see if we could help you save hundreds of dollars each month, possibly more.”
A Kansas Farm Bureau membership is required to begin enrollment. Visit www.kfbhealthplans.com for more information or visit your local Farm Bureau Financial Services agent.