NewsPublic Affairs / January 29, 2020

Senate Committee Passes Health Plan Bill That Includes Sole Proprietors

Original story from   IPBS-RJC

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Senate Committee Passes Health Plan Bill That Includes Sole Proprietors

Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) speaks to a Senate committee about a bill he authored to allow the Indiana Farm Bureau to offer a health care benefit plan to sole proprietor members.

Samantha Horton/IPB News

Many Indiana farmers want more health care options. On Wednesday, they got closer to that goal. An Indiana Senate committee approved a bill that would allow the state farm bureau to offer a group health plan including sole proprietors.

In a packed room for the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee meeting Wednesday, Hoosier farmers said they have trouble getting affordable health insurance. Some have taken jobs off the farm to get insurance, and others go without coverage.

Lacey Sheller says her family’s turned to a religious health sharing plan. But they find it limiting.

“Thanks to our faith in Christ, we are able to participate, but we don’t believe an individual should be forced into a religious based scenario in order to find some sort of health sharing,” says Sheller. “Payment is 100 percent at their discretion. They say they cover everything as long as it’s an act of God and not a result of living an ungodly life. So, define that. I can’t.”

READ MORE: Why A Farm Bureau Push For Health Plans Is Raising Concerns

Sheller says her and her husband would prefer another health care option from the farm bureau.

Benjamin Sanders of Farm Bureau Health Plans of Tennessee spoke at a hearing Wednesday. He says his group has been providing members health care options for decades. And that helps farmers who don’t qualify for reduced prices through the Affordable Care Act.

“We work very hard to make sure our members are choosing the best plan for them,” says Sanders. “And if they could get a cheaper – excuse me – a more affordable plan on the marketplace, we direct them there.”

Sanders says many people who sign up wouldn’t have coverage without the farm bureau’s health care plan.

Some committee members raised concerns about the impact on the current health insurance marketplace. They also were concerned that some people might be denied coverage. But they passed the bill 8-0 sending it back to the Senate floor.

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

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