Farmers Union Advocates For Health Care

Farmers, among other groups of self-employed individuals, often find it difficult to access affordable health care. Wisconsin Farmers Union says this creates a roadblock for prospective farmers, and it’s a significant cost and area of vulnerability for continuing farmers.

WFU is asking the state Legislature to accept federal funds to expand BadgerCare. The organization says it would increase income eligibility from 100 percent to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. WFU says it would provide health insurance to 80,000 more people in Wisconsin. More than 40 other states have taken the federal offer.

With the expansion, WFU says health care can reach more farmers, such as Dylan Bruce.

Bruce and his wife operate Circadian Organics and Driftless Seed in Ferryville. He’s also president of his Vernon and Crawford County WFU chapter. Because farming is such a unique business, he doesn’t qualify for BadgerCare. And because he’s got a preexisting condition, he’s got to pay for expensive insurance.

WFU says rural residents are twice as likely to participate in the health insurance marketplace as those in urban areas. Many farmers and rural residents struggle with high premiums, copays, and deductibles. A 2020 University of Minnesota study found that people living in rural areas have the fewest health insurance plan options and pay the highest premiums.

WFU adds that expanding BadgerCare would also save $300 million in the state budget due to the injection of federal funds.

The next step, WFU says, is to include a BadgerCare public option on the marketplace to allow Wisconsin citizens to apply federal premium subsidies to make health insurance even more affordable.