IFB board supports health care exploration

Working group will begin investigating possibility of providing health insurance options to members.

Under new rules, small employers, such as farmers, can band together in an Association Health Plan and offer health insurance coverage to employees.

By Deana Stroisch

Illinois Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors last week endorsed a working group’s recommendation to explore providing health insurance to members through an Association Health Plan (AHP), among other things.

The board also authorized the Health Care Working Group to continue its work next year.

“The board wants the working group to further explore the options they’ve recommended,” said Brian Duncan, IFB vice president and working group chair. “This is the beginning of officially investigating the possibility of providing health insurance options to members.”

The working group, which has been studying health care options, suggested IFB discuss creating an AHP with potential carriers and survey IFB members to gauge their interest.

The group also suggested exploring potential partnerships with other Illinois-based associations of self-employed people, such as realtors and doctors, that IFB could join to form an AHP.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last fall that allows small employers and consumers to band together, as if they were a single, large employer in an AHP, to lower insurance costs and increase access to health insurance. The Department of Labor finalized the changes in June.

The focus on health care stems from a Sense of the Delegate Body Resolution approved at IFB’s Annual Meeting last December. The resolution, introduced by Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kendall and Will counties, called on the IFB Board of Directors to identify affordable health care options for members and provide a report to delegates at this year’s annual meeting.

The working group, along with members of the Strength with Advisory Team, also recommended:

- Increasing communications to members about health care issues and health insurance options.

- Communicating to legislators about the high cost of health insurance for farmers who are not part of an employer health plan and strengthening the organization’s health care policy.

- Studying other health care options, including a Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement, in which multiple employers join together to share the risk of providing health insurance.

- Considering the viability of seeking legislation to establish a nonactuarial health care plan for IFB members like Iowa instituted.

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.