40 Square Cooperative Solutions, a Minnesota agricultural health care cooperative entering its second year of business, is holding informational sessions across the state.
40 Square was founded by Cooperative Network, the Minnesota and Wisconsin state trade association of cooperatives, and United Farmers Cooperative, an agricultural supply cooperative based in Winthrop, Minn. It formally organized last year following a state amendment that allowed ag cooperatives to offer health insurance plans to its members.
“We are excited to be out there and talking with farmers to show them possibilities for [health care plan] savings,” says Kathy Watson, 40 Square member support specialist. “Now farmers have something to compare to help them cut costs.”
Here are the informational sessions for the next month in Minnesota:
• Today. 4 p.m., Hector Community Center, Hector
• Sept. 12. 4 p.m., Ag Partners, Goodhue
• Sept. 18. 4 p.m., American Legion, Marshall
• Sept. 19. 4 p.m., United Farmers Cooperative, Winthrop
• Sept. 20. 4 p.m., Farmward Cooperative, Morgan
• Sept. 25. 4 p.m., Ag Partners, Le Sueur
Ideally, 40 Square staff would like to see participation numbers double from last year, Watson says.
“It’s difficult to predict, though,” Watson says. “A lot of people may wait until after the first of the year to see if their insurance plan will continue to carry them.”
Insurance companies pulling out of a market is still in recent memory for many. In 2016, Blue Cross Blue Shield announced it would no longer offer individual health insurance plans in 2017.
During its first year in operation, 40 Square enrolled 393 cooperative members and had 485 families (1,074 individuals) in its health plans.
40 Square staff conducted a member survey last June to learn how farmers found out about the ag health insurance co-op and what benefits were most important to them. Half of those responding to the survey said they attended an informational meeting last year. Seventy-five percent said they enrolled through a local agent. Respondents said that medical and prescription drug coverage were the most important benefits offered by 40 Square, followed by vision insurance. And when asked, 94% said they would refer 40 Square to a friend.
According to its 2017 annual report, 40 Square’s most popular enrollment coverage option was the $6,550 deductible plan (60%) followed by the $3,500 deductible plan (12%) and the $5,500 deductible plan (11%).
Open enrollment for the 2019 season will be held Nov. 1-Dec. 19.
To learn more about 40 Square and additional informational meetings, visit the 40 Square Cooperative Solutions website or call 844-205-9579.