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Nebraska approves new affordable health plan for farmers

Nebraska approves new affordable health plan for farmers

By Scout Nelson

Governor Jim Pillen recently signed a groundbreaking bill aimed at providing affordable health care options to Nebraska's farmers, ranchers, and small business owners. The new legislation, known as LB 1313, enables a nonprofit organization to offer a health plan that could be a game changer for many who find the costs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibitive.

“The current health care insurance market discriminates against self-employed individuals and small business owners because they are not eligible for the discounted rates available under employer-sponsored plans,” highlighted Dawn Kucera, a local farmer, during her testimony to the Agriculture Committee.

Under the new bill, LB 1313, individuals need to be members of an agricultural nonprofit organization to qualify for the health benefits plan. These plans will cover essential services such as office visits, hospitalizations, preventive care, and maternity care, mirroring those offered under traditional health insurance plans. Importantly, mental health and substance abuse care are also included.

Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue praised the new legislation, stating, "LB1313 is a bill that allows health benefit plans that are sponsored by certain nonprofit agricultural organizations, such as Nebraska Farm Bureau. It would provide benefits under a self-funded arrangement administered by a licensed third-party administrator."

The need for more affordable health plans is urgent, as indicated by a Nebraska Farm Bureau survey in 2023, which found that 81% of farm and ranch members cited the cost of health insurance as a primary concern. Many are currently forced to forgo insurance or depend on a spouse's employer-based plan.

Kucera shared personal struggles with the current insurance market, noting, "We pay nearly $16,000 per year for our subsidized ACA plan and $20,000 to $40,000 annually in deductibles and copays." She emphasized that the new plans under LB 1313 could be up to 60% cheaper than unsubsidized ACA plans.

The introduction of LB 1313 is seen as a significant step toward providing a viable, affordable healthcare solution for Nebraska’s agricultural sector and its small business community. The state's leaders and the governor have been commended for their role in addressing this critical issue.

Photo Credit -gettyimages-richlegg

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Categories: Nebraska, Business, Government & Policy

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