Author Topic: Today’s report reinforces my passion to play a role in lowering healthcare costs  (Read 3584 times)

Offline JC Spencer

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Today’s report reinforces my passion to play a major role in lowering healthcare costs.  Small business owners including farmers and ranchers are hit hard with rising healthcare costs.  Tell every farmer and rancher to stay tuned or tune into this section of the Sugar Science Forum because we have a plan and the ways and means for implementing the plan.  The plan will work in California and all fifty states of the United States.  I do not know about the laws of other countries yet.

Now today’s report coming out of California

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Report: Farmers, ranchers hit hard by health care costs

July 23, 2008

• Families have inadequate or costly coverage, it says
• ‘It is no longer just the uninsured who are suffering’

About a third of California’s farmers and ranchers are forced to buy health insurance through the costly individual market because they have no access to lower-cost group coverage, according to a report Wednesday by a group dubbed the “Access Project” and commissioned by the California Endowment.

Family farmers and ranchers who purchased health coverage through the individual market spent approximately $4,600 more on premiums and out-of-pocket health care costs than those farmers and ranchers who obtained group health coverage from off-ranch or off-farm employment, the report says.

“In many cases this is resulting in these family-owned small businesses carrying on average more than $4,000 in medical and $1,700 in dental debt,” says Carol Pryor, lead author of the report and senior policy analyst for the Access Project. “This suggests that it is no longer just the uninsured who are suffering from high health care costs – those with health coverage are also struggling and, in some cases, delaying needed care.”

The impact of health care costs on non-corporate farm and ranch operators is significant for a number of reasons, the report says. First, family farms dominate U.S. agriculture and they collectively generate 85 percent of the value of production. In California, most farms (98 percent) are family farms; they produce $32 billion per year in value; and support more than 1.1 million jobs, approximately 7.4 percent of all employment in the state.

For farmers and ranchers, health care expenses have the potential to affect not only their families’ economic security, but also the financial viability of their businesses, which may in turn impact the larger, already challenged California and national economy, the report says.

“The financial burden on farm and ranch operators that this study reveals represents a significant drain on the ability of these rural businesses to grow and thrive,” says Bill Lottero, co-author of the report.

Other findings of the report:

• More than half (55 percent) of respondents obtained health coverage through off-farm or off-ranch employment.

• Among those who said their principal occupation was farming or ranching, nearly half (48 percent) bought insurance through the individual market.

• Even though most respondents had health insurance, about one in four (26 percent) had to dip into their financial resources to pay for health care. Of these seven in 10 had to use family savings, almost three in 10 increased their credit card debt, 15 percent borrowed against their home or business, and more than one in 10 (11 percent) withdrew money from a retirement account.

• Thirteen percent of respondents said they had debt resulting from medical or dental bills. Among these respondents the average amount of medical debt was $4,276 and average amount of dental debt was $1,760.

The Access Project is a research affiliate of the Schneider Institute for Health Policy at Brandeis University. The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for under served individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians.

The survey instrument was pre-tested with farmers and ranchers in January 2007 and revised based on the pre-test results. Fielding of the California survey began in September and was completed in December of 2007. The original sample of 3,598 was adjusted to reflect the 870 operators who were inaccessible either because their phone numbers were disconnected or because surveyors were unable to reach them after at least 13 dial attempts. A total of 1,787 farm operators responded to the survey. The response rate, based on the adjusted sample size of 2,728, was 66 percent.