Land O'Lakes Inc. continues to find ways to assist its farmers in finding affordable, comprehensive health care. The Land O'Lakes Cooperative Farmer Member Health Plan announced its further expansion by moving into the state of Kansas for the 2020 plan year. This self-insured arrangement already offers coverage to farmers of participating co-ops and individual farmers within the Land O'Lakes network in Minnesota and Nebraska.
Leveraging a Minnesota-specific statute, Land O'Lakes developed a group health plan for individual farmers within its network in 2018. In its pilot year, through a partnership with Gravie, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based benefits marketplace, the Farmer Member Health Plan was offered to 12 Minnesota-based Land O'Lakes co-ops as well as to the individual farmer members. In 2019, the plan expanded into Nebraska, making more than 50,000 farmers in Minnesota and Nebraska eligible for enrollment in the plan. With the expansion into Kansas, more than 60 cooperatives and their farmers are now eligible.
"At Land O'Lakes, we're continuously looking for new ways to support and advocate for our members," Land O'Lakes president and chief executive officer Beth Ford said. "Our farmers are dealing with many challenging issues in today's agriculture environment. Finding affordable health care options for their families shouldn't be one of them."
Farmers participating in the Land O'Lakes Cooperative Farmer Member Health Plan can choose from several Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant plans – all of which cover the 10 essential health benefits, have broad network coverage and are more affordable than plans offered in the current individual market. By being voluntarily compliant with ACA and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, those with pre-existing conditions are not barred from participation, nor will premiums be developed based on a particular participant's health condition.
"The expansion of our Farmer Member Health Care Plan is something we take immense pride in, and we thank our partners in the Kansas legislature for making this possible," Pam Grove, senior director of benefits at Land O'Lakes, added.
The Cooperative Farmer Member Health Plan is not Land O'Lakes' first entrée into the health care space for those within its cooperative system. In 2011, the company launched a fully insured plan for employees of certain agricultural member co-ops. That plan now covers more than 12,000 co-op employees and their dependents in 12 states.
Land O'Lakes is working to expand this offering to additional states and to identify ways to grow this new solution for the member producers and farmers within its cooperative system.