Guest Commentary: Don’t pinch on health insurance

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NEW CASTLE, Pa. – Over the past few years, discussions with area farmers have led me to note that a number of farmers tell me they have no health insurance for themselves or their families. The reason is usually the same: They can’t afford it.

The fact, however, is that farmers cannot afford to be without health insurance.

How many of you would drive your cars or trucks without automobile insurance? No one. Of course the law requires it, but beyond that, we all know a serious accident and liability suit could potentially cost hundred’s of thousands of dollars and end up costing you the farm.
Consider liability insurance, too.

How about farmer’s comprehensive liability insurance? Again, most farmers realize the risks of serious injury and subsequent lawsuit potential that are associated with farming and carry this necessary coverage.

We also recognize the need to carry property insurance on valuable farm buildings, machinery, and livestock – and most farmers I believe do protect themselves with property insurance.

So why should the thought process be different with health insurance? Health insurance not only protects you and your family’s bodies, it also protects your assets.

The major concern with health insurance is not to provide coverage for treatment for the common cold or cut finger that most of us could find a way to pay for. The big concern should be the serious illness or injury that again could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The farming business is known as one of the most dangerous of occupations with many opportunities for serious injuries – the type that cost huge sums to rehabilitate. Who among you could come up with that kind of cash? Without health insurance, your assets, including the farm, would be at risk.

Don’t cut corners.

With today’s tight farm economics, many farmers are looking at ways to cut costs. Often health insurance is the first thing to go. It should be the last thing to go.

If you can’t afford health insurance, you surely cannot aiford that new tractor, or grain drill, or round baler. Health insurance must be thought of as a basic family need, just as are food, clothing, and shelter.

If the income stream from farming is not sufficient to purchase health insurance, then your income is not providing for all your basic family needs and some other source of income should be sought.

(The author is an ag extension agent in Lawrence County Pa.)

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