For years, Kansas state senator Carolyn McGinn had been pursuing better health care options for farmers. As a legislator, Land O’Lakes elected leader and farmer, Carolyn is intimately familiar with the journey it takes to introduce new policies as well as the challenges that farmers face when it comes to paying for health care for their families and employees.
When Carolyn heard about the Land O’Lakes Cooperative Farmer Member Health Plan, she was hopeful that it could assist Kansas farmers in finding affordable, comprehensive health care.
In 2018, leveraging a Minnesota-specific statute, Land O’Lakes developed a group health plan for individual farmers. Land O’Lakes offered the plan to 12 Minnesota-based co-ops in its pilot year. In 2019, the plan expanded to Nebraska, making more than 50,000 farmers eligible for enrollment in the plan.
“At Land O’Lakes, we’re continuously looking for new ways to support and advocate for our members,” said Beth Ford, president and CEO, Land O’Lakes, earlier this year. “Our farmers are dealing with many challenging issues in today’s agriculture environment – finding affordable health care options for their families shouldn’t be one of them.”
Carolyn recognized the pressing economic challenges facing the industry and knew that farmers needed real cost savings. The association plan offered that: specifically, savings of 10% to35% compared to rates of states’ individual markets.
While Carolyn had a relationship with Land O’Lakes as a farmer, she became hopeful that she could partner with Land O’Lakes as a legislator in order to expand this plan to Kansas.
Sure enough, by July of this year, the Member Health Plan announced expansion into Kansas for 2020. More than 60 cooperatives and their farmers will be eligible.
“The expansion of our Farmer Member Health Care Plan is something we take immense pride in, and we thank our partners in the Kansas legislature for making this possible,” said Pam Grove, senior director of benefits at Land O’Lakes, at the time of the announcement.
Considering the challenges facing our industry today, it’s more important than ever for us to find innovative solutions to support retailers and farmers throughout our system. This is especially true in the health care space where many people in rural communities struggle to find affordable and convenient solutions.
Carolyn sees it as her role to promote the plan so farmers know all their options. You can help by sharing the word of the Member Health Plan, and by getting involved in advocacy.