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Conference Name Linking Farm Vitality and Health - Tools You Can Use

Maria Pippidis


Investments in health insurance and health care are critical components to supporting human capital on farms. They are essential parts of a risk management strategy that ensures farm vitality in the short and long term. Tasks and finances that compete for attention and dollars often place farmers in a tough position of choosing between taking care of themselves, employees, families and the farm operation.
Recent research (Inwood et al, 2018) found that three out of four farmers and ranchers (73%) believe health insurance is an important or very important risk management strategy for their farm or ranch. Young and beginning farmers and ranchers identify access to health insurance as one of the most significant issues impacting the future of their farm or ranch. Just over half of farmers and ranchers (52%) are not confident they could pay the costs of a major illness without going into debt.
Most farmers (92%) are insured from off-farm employment, government programs (ACA, Medicare, and Medicaid) and private insurers. While they are insured, the high out-of-pocket costs and deductibles may reduce their ability to access care. Rural areas with limited availability of health care services may also prevent easy access to care. Nearly half (46%) said health care costs limited farm investments.
The same research shows only 50% have someone to run the farm in case of illness or injury of main operator. Almost half of farmers and ranchers (45%) are concerned they will have to sell some or all of their farm or ranch assets to address health related costs. Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) 2013 data indicates that only 29% of U.S. farms had a succession plan.
Professionals in the health care, health insurance and finance arenas are often unaware of special needs of farm operators and their families including the high risk of injury and suicide. Extension professionals reported a lack of frequent or effective communication with health insurance service providers and health insurance brokers or agents (Inwood et al, 2017). They asked for professional development on this topic. Working together to increase awareness and build solutions to support farm operators and their families can strengthen farm and ranching operations, the lives of farm and ranch families and the communities in which all reside.
This session will outline efforts undertaken by Delaware, Maryland, and Ohio Extension professionals to build linkages among health care, health insurance, finance and agricultural communities to find solutions. Included will be an overview of the research supporting the effort, an outline and outcomes of Strengthening Health and Farm Forums. Participants will get to try out some tools to use to increase awareness of linkages between farm and health vitality.
Contact Maria Pippidis for more information. pippidis@udel.edu