South Dakota Farm Bureau (SDFB) is proposing legislation to be considered during the 2021 South Dakota legislative session that would allow SDFB to offer a quality health care coverage option to members. The health care plan would include a national network of providers and operate much like health care coverage options offered at companies with self-funded pools.
SDFB is working with lead sponsor, Sen. Gary Cammack, to introduce Senate Bill 87, which would authorize SDFB to offer a health benefit plan under a self-funded arrangement through an entity licensed as a third-party administrator, and as an organization certified with the South Dakota Division of Insurance.
“South Dakota Farm Bureau members have asked for years if a health care product was available through our organization. Passing this important legislation could finally fulfill this request,” said Scott VanderWal, SDFB president. “SDFB is uniquely positioned to begin offering a health care product to our members, combining a 100-year history as an organization known to have the best interests of South Dakotans at heart and a clear reputation as a trusted leader within South Dakota.”
Health care coverage is a critical need for many rural South Dakotans. A recent survey conducted with SDFB farmer/rancher members showed that 70 percent of them are concerned about finding and keeping affordable health insurance for their families. Members reported paying premiums in excess of $1,500 - $2,000 each month.
“Our members shared story after story of personal challenges to keep their families covered and continue to stay in the farming and ranching business,” said Krystil Smit, SDFB executive director. “Many spouses work away from their operation for the sole purpose of health care. The volatility in the ag industry, combined with rising monthly premiums, is creating added stress for ag producers throughout the state. We believe this is a positive step for our members of South Dakota Farm Bureau.”
SDFB has the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Farm Bureau organizations in other states that have passed similar legislation and are offering a quality health care product to their members. This is a proven product offering which has benefitted Farm Bureau members who are in need of affordable, quality health care coverage.