Considering the high cost of health insurance, farm families should become familiar with changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach human sciences specialists in family finance discussed the implications for farm families in the August issue of ISU's Ag Decision Maker newsletter.
"For the farm community and the public at large, a great deal of confusion has surrounded the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Uncertainties remain in terms of the costs and benefits associated with its implementation," says Suzanne Bartholomae. "However, many of the new provisions of the ACA may address some of the issues faced by farm families when it comes to health coverage."
Farmers generally have to pay more for health insurance
The health insurance consumption patterns of Iowa farmers differ from the population at large, USDA research shows. Iowa farm operators tend to have greater rates of insurance coverage than the general population, partially because of the dangerous nature of farming. To get health insurance coverage, family members often take off-farm jobs. "Farmers use health insurance to protect their farms from risk, and many farm operations support multiple farm families," adds Susan Taylor, another ISU family finance specialist.
Bartholomae and Taylor examine the health insurance marketplace, essential benefits, tax credits and cost-sharing options.
Resources for small businesses and farmers:
Click on Health Care - Small Businesses website
This website provides comprehensive, easy-to-understand information on health insurance options for small businesses related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Click on Health Care - SHOP Marketplace website
This website provides a portal to locate the "qualified health plans" available in your state for employers to offer to their employees. SHOP is available October 1, 2013 for small business owners with less than 50 full-time employees. Small business owners with fewer than 100 full-time employees will be able to obtain coverage beginning/during the enrollment period for 2016 coverage.
Call center: The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Call Center: (For small employers and those assisting them): 800-706-7893 or TYY: 800-706-7915. The call center operates Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 7p.m. EST.
Click on: Affordable Care Act (ACA) Tax Provisions
Internal Revenue Service provides tax resources related to health insurance for individuals, small businesses, non-profits, and large employers.
Click on: U.S. Small Business Administration - Health Care
U.S. Small Business Administration site includes information and resources to educate employers on what the Affordable Care Act means for small businesses. Key provisions of the Affordable Care Act for self-employed, employers with fewer than 25 employees, employers with up to 50 employees, and employers with 50 or more employees. Affordable Care Act training materials are available.
Click on: Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for Small Employers
Internal Revenue Service provides guidance for qualification and application for the tax credit for employers of 25 or fewer employees who provide health coverage for their employees.
Click on: United States Department of Labor - Affordable Care Act
The U.S. Department of Labor site provides legal and technical guidance for employers. A FAQ on key topics such as the notice to employees of coverage options, workplace wellness programs, summary of benefits and coverage requirements, and uniform glossary.