This sponsored content was written by 40 Square Cooperative Solutions
40 Square Cooperative Solutions, an independent Minnesota agricultural health plan co-op providing health plans to farm families, agribusinesses, and their employees access to self-funded health insurance options, is ramping up for its third year of open enrollment beginning Nov. 1 and running through December 31, 2019 for January 1, 2020 effective dates.
40 Square Executive Director Char Vrieze, was extremely pleased with last year ’s enrollment outcome which yielded more than 1,000 individuals. But she credits the strength of Minnesota’s cooperatives to 40 Square’s success. Minnesota is the leading cooperative state in the nation with more than 600 co-ops headquartered here – many of which are engaged in production agriculture. “Like other co-ops that have led the way for strong agriculture communities, 40Square is helping to preserve the proud traditions of agriculture for generations to come,” said Vrieze.
Structure of Cooperative and Health Plan
The 40 Square Cooperative Solutions co-op sponsors the health plan and is governed by a board of directors, elected by its members/patrons. Fifty-one percent of governance is members and patrons, 49 percent is investment partners.
There are no insurance companies involved. Participant members pay into the co-op to self-fund the health plan. Those premium dollars are then placed into a Trust, only to be used for health plan expenses. The Trust is a separate board governed by the five elected plan members; however, all health plan participants have 100 percent ownership interest in the Trust. If resources are not spent during any given health plan year, the money remains in the Trust and helps stabilize premium increases for the following plan year.
Health Plan Details
40 Square currently offers a variety of health plans to choose from, including health savings account (HSA) eligible plans. Similar to traditional health insurance, 40 Square’s self-funded plans have an annual deductible, coinsurance and copays that members are responsible for.
The amount of coverage received depends on the plan selected. Additional optional benefits include vision, dental, and life. Other non-insurance products to enhance the health plan include hearing benefits, free telemedicine doctor visits, care navigators that help explain tests, claims or billing, and cost comparisons for procedures. In addition, the co-op offers AgriPlan and BizPlan, which helps farmers and agribusinesses to declare medical expenses as a business expense on taxes.
To become a member of 40 Square, farm families and agribusinesses must meet certain criteria. They must:
• Actively work in production agriculture in Minnesota
• File either Form 1065 or Schedule F with their income tax return or provide direct services to production agriculture in Minnesota. This includes farm corporations and businesses who predominately receive their income from providing their services to production agriculture.
• Purchase Voting Stock in an amount of $100 (one-time, only for the farm/business).
• Purchase Common Stock of $1,000 over the first year (one-time, only for the farm/business/employer).
• Have a minimum of one “Common Law” employee. (In general, someone who you provide a W-2, does not have to be a full-time employee; for example, it may be a spouse who does the books).
• Participate for three years, otherwise risk forfeiting a portion of stock (certain exclusions apply).
Membership includes farm corporations as well as businesses who provide direct services to production agriculture.
All members must commit to a three-year term with a risk of forfeiting their initial investment if they leave the co-op before their term has expired.
Interested in joining more than 1,000 Minnesotans who call 40 Square their co-op? Visit www.40Square.coop to learn more about its health plans, doctor network and more, or contact info@40Square.coop or 844-205-9579.