One of the significant challenge facing many farmers (like other self-employed persons) is getting health insurance coverage. Often something as seemingly trivial as hay fever will cause an individual application to be declined. Plus when you apply somewhere else, you then have to check the box "Have you ever been refused health insurance coverage by another company?" - a real red flag to underwriters.
Don't get me wrong. I support the right of insurers to not buy a sure loss, but comparing that outcome to those who are automatically covered because of employment in a group at least demonstrates a major flaw in how we allocate health care in the US.
This presidential campaign may bring some relief, or at a minimum highlight this problem better.
Among recent developments:I cannot imagine a goverment action that could improve farm life more. Thousands of women especially commute to jobs they may not particularly enjoy simply to provide a farm family with health coverage. Many do without coverage.
• In the past few months, regulators in California, Connecticut and several other states have fined or taken other action against insurers who revoked individual coverage after policyholders fell ill, leaving them with thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills.
• In Congress, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Bob Bennett, R-Utah, are pushing the first sweeping, bipartisan health care proposal in years, one that could shift many workers from getting coverage through employers to buying their own insurance. Breaking the link between employment and insurance, they say, would let people keep their coverage when they lose or switch jobs. The proposal requires everyone to have coverage and forces insurers to sell to all applicants.
• Both presidential candidates say they want to improve options for people who buy their own coverage. Democrat Barack Obama says he would create ways for individuals to buy insurance in groups and would require insurers to sell to everyone.
That would allow "individuals and small firms to get all the benefits of the purchasing power of big firms," Obama adviser David Cutler says.
Republican John McCain has made individuals the centerpiece of his health plan. He proposes $2,500 to $5,000 tax credits to all Americans to purchase their own coverage and would end the tax breaks workers get for job-based coverage.
McCain says that would even the playing field between those who get coverage at work and those who buy their own. [More]
I do not advocate first-dollar health coverage (for anyone). But divorcing health insurance from employment would strengthen employee leverage by being compensated for what they can do on the job, rather that coerced to stay even with lower pay because of a sick child.
[Blogger note: Today is why I love publishing on Blogger from Google. Today I sat down to post as found they had added a way to change the background color for text (so I can more clearly differentiate direct quotes from my own words) and the beloved do-over arrows (undo and redo). And I now have strikethrough capability - which I will use to amend my multiple errors without hiding the original