Feeling the Pinch of Health Care Costs

Farm and ranch operators, like many self-employed Americans, cannot afford the cost of health insurance according to a report by The Access Project.
The report, Who is Uninsured? is based on data gathered through a 2007 survey of farm and ranch operators in the Great Plains. It found that uninsured farm and ranch operators were more likely to say that their principal occupation was farming or ranching than their insured counterparts.

Uninsured farmers and ranchers faced greater barriers to getting care and suffered higher levels of financial hardship than those with insurance. Compared to the insured, the uninsured were also more likely to:

·Draw down resources, withdrawing money from savings or taking out loans, to pay for health care
·Spend more than 10 percent of their income on health care
·Accrue medical debt

Plans to reform the health care system nationally must take into account the needs of rural businesses and communities. Health reform that continues to rely solely on the private insurance market and attempts to strengthen employer-provided insurance, no matter how regulated or reformed, will be irrelevant to a large number of rural people. If we want farmers to continue growing the food for our families, and if we want rural communities to thrive, then availability of affordable and quality health insurance must be effectively addressed.

We must urge policymakers, as they work to reform our nation's health care system, to consider options for expanding the availability of comprehensive insurance coverage.

The report is available at: www.cfra.org/files/AccessProject-2007-Health-Insurance-FarmRanchSurvey.pdf

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