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Gillie: Access to affordable health insurance at forefront for MSGA

Falling crop prices, challenging weather issues, widening basis and cancelled health insurance policies: As farmers, we deal with many challenges in our businesses. We are used to this, I guess. But one of the issues we shouldn’t be dealing with is the strain the Affordable Care Act is putting on our pocketbooks.

This year has been extremely challenging. Many farmers have reached out to Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) directors concerned about Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) health insurance policies getting cancelled. In 2015, my own family watched our policy increase from $932.66 per month for a $3,800 family deductible (me, my husband and son) to approximately $1,600 for the same policy per month. This past summer, we found out that as of Jan. 1, 2017, BCBS was cancelling our individual health insurance policy.

To boot, our son will soon be 26 and can no longer be on our policy, which puts additional stress on him and other young men and women like him who will be paying outrageous premiums while still in the early parts of their careers.

We have been presented with a couple options, one bringing our monthly costs down to $1,500. However, when we’re looking at premium hikes 50 to 60 percent above cost, that plan could easily rise to $2,150 a month.

Our situation is very similar to many Minnesota farmers. We’re either being directed to the MNsure.org website to shop for coverage or told to shop for another insurance company, and it seems no other companies are available to us. All of this brings us back to BCBS, which is canceling individual health insurance policies in Minnesota. Without BCBS, we’re left with an HMO plan that takes us away from our local health care facility for most of our medical needs.

The Affordable Care Act is so far from affordable, folks. In 2016, families are paying more than 20 percent of their monthly living to health insurance. Next year, we will be paying over 35 percent. As far as other options, they are limited.

MSGA and our lobbyists are working hard on this issue in St. Paul to make sure farmers are well represented in discussions on potential fixes.  Your membership is crucial in our efforts at the Capitol.  If you are already a member, thank you!  If not, click here to sign up today to help us continue our work making soybean farming more profitable in Minnesota.