Vilsack says ACA helping rural Americans
In an exclusive interview with Brownfield Ag News, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, with its broader health care coverage is going to help rural Americans. Vilsack says, “There are a lot of benefits in this law to folks who live in rural areas and obviously we want folks to take advantage of it. They look on the website, healthcare.gov, they might be surprised that they can find maybe insurance for as little as $100 a month.”
But what about the claims from some who say their health insurance costs have risen under Obamacare, we asked? “Unfortunately,” Vilsack says, “Some of these stories that have been used by folks in the public eye turn out to not be correct and the vast majority of the people who are going on the website and doing a search of the various options are finding that their health care costs are actually coming down and the cost of insurance is down.”
The more people who sign up, he says, the further the risk is spread so that costs go down, “I can remember when I was governor of Iowa being told by the folks at then-BlueCross/BlueShield that my insurance premiums were 10 to 15% higher because of the level of uninsured people in my state. Because those folks would get healthcare, they couldn’t pay for it, the cost of it was shifted and transferred to those who could. So, now, what we have is an evening out of that.”
What about smaller farms and agribusinesses concerned about higher employee health care costs? Vilsack says there has been a delay in the implementation for smaller businesses so, in his words, there is time to adjust to the new system, adding, “Secondly, I think there’s also time to learn about the tax credits that are available to businesses. Oftentimes, when people are looking at the cost of healthcare they’re not factoring in the advantageous tax benefits that they get that will reduce the overall cost to them at the end of the day.”
Vilsack tells Brownfield that once the problems on the Affordable Care Act website were corrected, there has been a significant uptick in applicants. As of February 1, 2014, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department reported nearly 3.3 million people enrolled in the Health Insurance Marketplace plans.