Evaluate Health Options now for 2020
Just as farmers book next year’s seed, now marks the time to evaluate health coverage options that best meet medical needs and budgets in 2020.
The enrollment period for individual health insurance plans runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2020.
“Don’t wait until the last minute,” said Sara Sturgeon, COUNTRY Financial health brokerage lead. “Review your current plan that you have and also shop around to different carriers and see what you can get with different options.”
Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) understands the strain that rising health care costs have put on farm families. In response, the organization continues to research options to help members with health-related needs, from more affordable insurance and prescription assistance to accessible mental health support.
Most pressing right now, individual health insurance plans require an application by Dec. 15 to secure coverage in calendar year 2020. While members can purchase this type of plan directly with carriers or through Healthcare.gov, the latter offers potential cost-share assistance.
Sturgeon said more members may qualify for assistance than they realize based on income and household size. At a minimum, she suggested members use Healthcare.gov as an online price-comparison tool when reviewing individual health plans.
This plan type represents just one of several coverage options available. Farms with employees could form a small group insurance plan. Short-term health plans can bridge the gap between insurance coverages, and healthcare sharing ministries provide a faith-based, non-insurance option that works for some members. IFB also explores the formation of an association health plan, which allows people in a like industry to band together to establish a plan at a potentially lower cost.
In that spirit of savings, members seeking price relief at the pharmacy counter can try the ScriptSave Prescription Drug Savings Card provided with their Farm Bureau membership. Benefits consultant Lisa Carlson of Lockton Companies in Chicago also recommended GoodRx, a free online tool and mobile app that offers drug coupons.
Shopping around can save money, too. Various retailers advertise flat-rate deals on generic drugs. For brand drugs, some manufacturers offer discounted medications to patients through their web sites.
IFB knows the rising cost of health care adds stress for families, particularly during this challenging year on the farm. Members mentally overwhelmed with daily stresses, anxiety or depression should seek support.
Carlson said telehealth assistance through programs like MDLIVE can put help just a virtual visit away. Meanwhile, IFB continues to expand its accessible mental wellness resources, including online at www.ilfb.org/resources/mental-health-wellness. Members can use this site to identify stressors and find wellness tools for a healthier 2020.