Little did Mercer County’s Gerald Vian know how valuable his Farm Bureau membership would be when he became a new, active member of Farm Bureau through a group membership with Kalmbach Feeds.
“My individual health insurance policies had been cancelled three years in a row,” he said, making the member benefit an attractive option. He still had coverage through one insurance company until the end of 2017, but opted into the self-funded Farm Bureau plan instead.
The OFB Health Benefits Plan, which has been offered within Farm Bureau’s extensive benefits package for one year, is available to sole proprietors and small business employers with fewer than 100 employees. Eligible businesses must be headquartered in Ohio and must operate within the “farm to fork” agricultural sector.
OFB Health Benefits Plan is an employee welfare benefit plan and trust, which is governed by trustees elected by members of the trust. Participants see competitive rates, predictable payments, a broad network of doctors and hospitals and flexible benefit plans. The plan also provides expanded wellness programs to encourage employees to maintain their health.
More than 700 people are currently covered through the plan, according to Dan Rapp, OFBF senior director of member retention and health benefits. Plan participants include OFBF employees.
A network of trained agents help employers determine eligibility and select plans that best meet their needs. Bud Andrako of Andrako Consultants in Rocky River is one of the agents for the OFB Health Benefits Plan. He calls the member benefit, which gives small business owners health coverage options outside of the Affordable Care Act, “The best plan out there.”
“We have clients who were in ACA and we have saved them 30 to 50 percent off (their) premiums when we put them into (OFB Health Benefits Plan),” Andrako said. “If you are an employer, you would appreciate that. This is what the Farm Bureau is doing for the ag business.”
Health claims processing and the provider network are administered by long-time Farm Bureau partner Medical Mutual of Ohio.
When Vian opted into OFB Health Benefits Plan, it ended up not only being a good move for him financially, he said, but also a necessity when once again a carrier he was with stopped offering him coverage.
“After I signed up for the Health Benefits Plan, but before the Kalmbach meeting welcoming the new members, I got a notice that Anthem Blue Cross was getting out of the market and I’d been dropped a third time,” he said. “Quite frankly, I had my fill of the whole insurance business.”
While he’s only been covered through OFB Health Benefits Plan for a short time, he said he welcomed the relief he was feeling being part of a self-funded, group program.
“It relieved a major stressor I had on my mind,” he said. “It’s a burden I hope I don’t have to ever go through again.”
For information about OFBF’s Health Benefits Plan, visit the plan website or call 800-937-4567.
About the plan
The OFB Health Benefits Plan is a Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA). The MEWA solution, provided for in Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1739, could be a good fit for employers for many reasons including:
• Competitive rates, in many cases lower than what is available in the Affordable Care Act market
• Predictable, fixed monthly payments
• Protection of being part of a larger self-funded pool
• Broad network of doctors and hospitals
• Flexibility in choice of benefit plans.