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Health Insurance Gap Widens

Agriculture.com Staff 07/06/2010 @ 5:18pm

As Judy Eichenberger began sorting a stack of medical bills from her husband's 2007 farm injury, the New Hampton, Iowa, woman was notified that her employer's insurance wouldn't cover the $300,000 in costs.

A 2007 change in the policy excluded benefits to an individual who gets sick or has an accident, "which arises out of or in the course of employment activity for wage or profit."

It isn't an isolated example. In Wisconsin, Sandi Cihlar, a Mosinee farm woman and rural health advocate, says some women who work off-farm for health insurance have found out that a husband's work-related injuries were excluded.

"The reasoning is that farmers are covered by worker's compensation insurance. But in most states, farmers without employees don't qualify for it," she says.

Farm women often hold off-farm jobs for the sole purpose of providing family health insurance. In 2007, two thirds of farm operator households -- either the operator or spouse -- worked off-farm.

Farm operators without employer-based insurance spend more on health care than other households, according to a 2009 USDA Health Status and Health Care Access of Farm and Rural Populations report. They average $5,200 to $10,000 a year.

Women under age 55 pay higher insurance premiums than men for identical coverage because they seek preventive services and incur maternity costs.

Older women continue to assume a heavy health care load. Kay Libbus, University of Missouri public health researcher, says rural women ages 50 to 65 bear the brunt of inadequate insurance.

"These women are beyond child-bearing age, susceptible to developing chronic diseases, and are often retired or leaving the workforce," Libbus says.

She's conducting focus groups in rural communities in Missouri to learn what can be done to address the problem.

As Judy Eichenberger began sorting a stack of medical bills from her husband's 2007 farm injury, the New Hampton, Iowa, woman was notified that her employer's insurance wouldn't cover the $300,000 in costs.

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Obesity Facts 05/25/2011 @ 5:29am Yes!I am absolutely agree with us.The gap is really widens. But we can not help it.We have to adjust with it. Obesity Facts

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