Sorting out health care coverage options

Illinois Farm Bureau has determined the topic of healthcare to be an important issue for members. Earlier this year, a working group analyzed potential options that could help manage rising medical costs. The group’s recommendations will be shared with delegates at IFB's Annual Meeting in December. In the meantime, IFB will be sharing information on some of these options.

Rita Frazer, left, “RFD Today” show co-host, posed questions Wednesday to Jeremy Stanton and Sara Sturgeon, both with COUNTRY Financial, on why it’s smart to shop for health care insurance if you’re self-employed.

Baffled by the choices or process to find reasonable options to tame the cost of your health care? When it comes to covering some of your health care costs, your first stop may be with COUNTRY Financial.

“The process can definitely start with your local COUNTRY Financial representative,” said Sara Sturgeon, COUNTRY Life/Health Brokerage lead. “We can work closely with your COUNTRY representative to navigate plan options and assist on Affordable Care Act (ACA) questions or concerns.”

Whether it be you, your family or the individuals you employ on your farm, COUNTRY has a roster of health insurance carriers that may make sense for you.

“We usually can provide quotes for individuals same-day, and in three to four days for group plans,” said Jeremy Stanton, senior group benefits account coordinator for COUNTRY.

You can start online here. Follow the instructions, and the internet-based tool should provide you with options to consider.

Some farmers and others have found the impersonal nature of the internet frustrating, and in particular, the state of Illinois ACA-related website ( and federal site ( Your COUNTRY representative can help navigate the ACA and determine what options and alternatives exist, including for those that have longstanding health insurance plans in which premiums have skyrocketed in recent years. Some farmers have experienced rate increases with some individuals now paying more than $20,000 a year for an individual health care insurance plan and $40,000 for family coverage.

“If you’ve had the same plan say, for 20 years, a wider range of options may exist,” said Stanton. “It never hurts to look at all and quote.”

Earlier this month, the federal government redefined what is considered short-term, limited duration insurance. In 2016, it placed a 90-day limit on duration of short-term plans, which now has been extended for up to 12 months. What once was considered just for those recently out of college or between jobs can now be considered by some farmers and others as a more affordable option than more comprehensive plans. Your COUNTRY Financial representative should be able to explore these options with you, too.