For many farmers and their families, having access to adequate and affordable health care can be a headache waiting to happen. South Dakota Farm Bureau is there to help by offering its own health care and insurance plans to its members.
“Earlier this year in the 2021 legislative session, South Dakota Farm Bureau was successful in getting legislation passed that allows our organization to offer health care coverage to our members,” says Krystil Smit, executive director of SDFB.
After being asked for many years by farm bureau members, Smit says they are excited to be able to offer these health plans to their members. “Our farmers and ranchers often have both spouses working on the farm, who would have to purchase health care plans independently of cost-sharing them with an employer.”
If unable to afford the health care plans or benefits, one spouse or family member will often have an off-farm job to assist with financials and insurance.
Smit says that this plan can help families work together on the farm. “Maybe if their help is still needed on the farm, they can now come back and be that extra hand,” she says.
Filling a need
Before creating the plans, Smit says SDFB conducted market research for the need of an affordable health care plan. “It’s very expensive for our residents, and we found that there are around 80,000 South Dakotans who do not even have health care coverage in the state,” she says.
Partnering with Farm Bureau Health Plans out of Tennessee, these plans are able to save members 35% or more of their monthly health care costs. “Farm Bureau Health Plans and Tennessee have been offering health care to their members for probably 60 years and have built a strong network for this. We are able to partner with them and offer similar coverage right here in South Dakota,” Smit says.
While health care plans through Farm Bureau are currently offered through South Dakota, Tennessee, Kansas and Indiana bureaus, Smit says it’s likely a matter of time until other states follow their work.
“Texas recently passed some legislation and are in similar conversations with Tennessee to offer this in their state,” she says. “We’re hopeful that this continues to grow, and we believe it is the right thing to offer to our farmers and ranchers.”
Health plan options
“There really is a solution for everyone,” Smit says. Aside from full health care options, SDFB offers supplemental care for vision and dental plans. Plans also cover preventive health coverage for mammograms, routine colonoscopies, annual well-women exam, and more are under the four plan options.
“There are Medicare supplement plans, and vision and dental bundles and options to separate plans, which is nice because then members can even supplement an existing plan affordably,” Smit says.
In its partnership with a large existing network, South Dakota Farm Bureau can extend coverage to members outside of state lines. “We’re not confined to the borders of South Dakota, as members of the United Health Care Choice network. So even if you’re out of state and need medical care, you’re covered.”
Not a farmer or rancher? These plans are available to all South Dakotans with a membership to South Dakota Farm Bureau. “We don’t limit our membership, and anyone can become a member of South Dakota Farm Bureau or other state’s Farm Bureau,” Smit says. “These plans can be utilized by all members.”
An annual membership to the South Dakota Farm Bureau costs $60. To find more information and to get a quote for a new health care plan, check out South Dakota Farm Bureau health plans.