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More Than 3,500 Hoosiers Covered On Indiana Farm Bureau Health Plan In First Quarter

Indiana Farm Bureau members wore stickers during the 2020 Indiana legislative session to show support for a bill that would allow the organization to offer health benefit plan. (Samantha Horton/IPB News)

The Indiana Farm Bureau (INFB) has signed up more than 3,500 people to the organization's health plans since first going into effect at the beginning of this year. While not all applicants have been accepted, one member says the program is overall an improvement.

The health plans allow members of the Farm Bureau an alternative option to health care on the marketplace, faith-based plans or one family member having to be employed off the farm to get health insurance.

Mindy Orschell and her husband own a farm in Indiana, about 30 minutes from Cincinnati. She said prior to the INFB’s health plan it was too costly to regularly visit the doctor – even under other health care plans.

“We found ourselves constantly putting off getting routine checkups, teeth cleanings, just you name it,” said Orschell. “If we weren't bleeding out, we didn't do it. And so that's been really hard the last 10 plus years of not getting regular maintenance that we needed to.”

Last year, state lawmakers passed legislation allowing INFB to create the health plan for the organization’s members. This came after members raised concerns about high costs for sole proprietors on the federal health insurance marketplace.

Orschell and two of her children signed up as soon as they could and were accepted. But her husband who has Type 1 diabetes was not initially approved due to his preexisting condition. 

She said even though it’s disappointing, she’s hopeful he’ll be able to join in the future.

“We weren't surprised, we knew going in that it would be a couple years, probably down the road before he would be accepted. But that's OK,” she said. “We're getting there. The bureau has opened the door. So we went in, now we're just waiting for the next door to open.”

Orschell said she and her children have been taking advantage of the health care plan since it kicked in, including visiting doctor’s close by in Ohio.

“So we're on the border. And that's always been an issue for us is coverage, especially with my husband, with the marketplace, he can only go to Indiana doctor. And so that's very hard because where we're at, the biggest city is Cincinnati,” said Orschell. “So he has been turned away from several doctors because of the coverage that he has.”

She said the INFB health plan has allowed her family the ability to hire another worker to help on the farm and get him health care.

As of the end of April, more than 1,300 plans had been approved.

Contact reporter Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.