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Finding robust, reasonably priced health care coverage for any business is tough, but it’s particularly challenging for small operations.
So when Werner G. Smith Inc. Chief Executive Officer Bill Grulich heard about a reputable health insurance plan that would save the company money, he listened.
“Our insurance agent told me he had this product from the Ohio Farm Bureau that would cost 37% less in premiums,” said Grulich, whose Cleveland-based company has 14 employees. “The coverage was better, it’s good insurance, so I said, ‘Wow, this is fantastic!’”
That was in 2017, and Werner G. Smith has offered the insurance to its employees ever since.
The Ohio Farm Bureau Health Benefits Plan, in its sixth year, is available to Ohio-based farmers and agriculture-related businesses with up to 50 employees.
Anthem administers the plan, which is self-funded and is governed by a six-member board of trustees, which includes Grulich. It uses the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s Blue Access health care provider network, and participants are required to pay Farm Bureau dues.
Only a few other Farm Bureaus nationwide offer health care insurance, according to Ohio Farm Bureau Sr. Director of Health Services Development Dan Rapp. The Ohio plan has become increasingly popular as businesses, including butchers, bakers and landscapers, realize they’re eligible.
Nearly 3,000 people from 590 employers participate now, a 12% increase in the past year, Rapp said. The coverage is generally 25% to 40% less expensive than similar plans and includes options for dental and vision care coverage.
The plan also includes the Sydney Health app, where participants can have video visits or chats with doctors, access mental health care and review drug pricing.
Grulich’s company is eligible for the Health Benefits Plan because its products – additives commonly used in cleaners, coatings, paint, personal-care products and machining and metalworking – are mostly derived from seed oils.
D.L. Meckes, president and Grulich’s wife, is the granddaughter of its namesake and founder, Werner G. Smith. Smith started the company in 1914, first selling sand for foundry molds and then importing Chinese tree oil, also known as Tung oil.
The company, which sells its products around the world today, has been located in the same 10-acre spot just south of downtown Cleveland since 1950.
Beth Ann Komara, chief financial officer at Werner G. Smith, said employees sometimes don’t realize how good the coverage is until they’ve left the company.
“Then we’ll hear them talk about how much their medical insurance costs them in their new job,” she said.
For more on the Ohio Farm Bureau Health Benefits Plan, and to request a quote, visit ofb.ag/healthbenefitsplan.
Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.Young Ag Professionals program
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