Farmers & The Affordable Care Act

It is now mandatory – with some exceptions – for citizens of the United States to carry health insurance. Those in the nation’s workforce covered by plans offered through their employers are probably all good – but others have some decisions to make says Marc Lovell from the University of Illinois…

“The folks that are going to have the most difficulty are the ones that have to go to the exchange to get coverage for themselves in order to fulfill that individual mandate which is the requirement effective Jan 2014 requiring everyone to have coverage in line for themselves. That meets those minimum requirements, or they will face a penalty when they file a return.”

Let’s first deal with who needs to sign up using the healthcare exchanges. Those that already have a healthcare plan – one not offered through an employer – but rather purchased from an insurance company may need to sign up. Then again – maybe not…

“There are some plans that will have grandfather status. The Affordable Care Act has a whole section on the grandfather plans. Its good to check with your insurance carrier to confirm that the plan does qualify for grandfathered status. If it does, the real key are the record keeping requirements. The grandfathered plans that are able to be maintained will have some rigorous record keeping requirements.”

This, thinks Lovell, is because the plans will be phased…pushed out of the system over time. So, today the healthcare insurance some individuals already have may qualify. Again, check with the insurance agent. However, it appears most self employed folks will need to go to one of the healthcare exchanges, key in all kinds of information – personal – and then start the sign up process. There are nine exceptions to this rule…

“For example if they cant obtain affordable coverage. That means under the Affordable Care Act that if they are going to be required to spend more than 8% of their household income, they may qualify for exemption. They may also qualify for hardship under a number of different circumstances. There should be a place on the web site to apply for any of these exemptions they think they qualify for.”

The website should guide folks through the process of whether or not they must sign up and if they’re eligible for any assistance. The insurance plans are set up – mostly – in a tiered bronze, silver, and gold set of coverage levels.


A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.

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