Gov. Doyle: Announces Plans to Provide Farm Families Access to Affordable Health Insurance

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – Governor Jim Doyle today announced plans to expand his BadgerCare Plus proposal so that more farm families, including adults, will have access to affordable health insurance. The Governor’s proposal will change the way a farmer’s income is calculated to determine eligibility for BadgerCare Plus benefits. 


“Farmers shouldn’t have to choose between investing in new equipment to keep their operations profitable and health insurance for their family,” Governor Doyle said.  “I am cutting through the administrative red tape so that BadgerCare Plus can include more farm families, ensuring that not only the kids are covered, but everyone in the family has access to health care.”


Currently, farm equipment depreciation is counted against farmers when applying for health insurance though BadgerCare.  The Governor’s new proposal will allow more farmers to buy into BadgerCare even if they have depreciation income.  Farmers and other self-employed individuals that fail to meet current income guidelines would be allowed to apply again, excluding depreciation.  If they are then deemed eligible they would be able to buy into the BadgerCare Plus program.


“Currently the value of a farmer’s tractor or hay baler counts against them when applying for BadgerCare.  But those things aren’t income.  They don’t help you pay the bills and they shouldn’t be counted that way,” Doyle added.


Due to the nature of their work and their unique risk profile, farm families have difficulty getting affordable coverage in the private insurance market.  According to a Farm Bureau report from July 2006, 14% of Wisconsin’s farmers have no health insurance.  Farmers who don’t purchase insurance through a spouse or second job face deductibles 183% greater than those with insurance from other sources.


Through BadgerCare Plus, many farmers will have access to high-quality health insurance at a price that is roughly 50% lower than the average that farmers face in the private insurance market. 


Governor Doyle and Helene Nelson, Secretary of the Department of Health and Family Services, met today with farm families, health care providers, advocates, social workers, and policy makers at a town hall meeting in Prairie du Chien to gather their input about the Governor’s BadgerCare Plus initiative.  The comments and input received at the meeting will be used to develop the BadgerCare Plus program.


The Governor has tasked the Department of Health and Family Services with developing BadgerCare Plus.  The Department has already assembled a BadgerCare Plus Advisory Committee comprised of health officials, advocates, health care financing experts, and State legislators to oversee the technical development of the proposal.


The Department is seeking input from families who currently use the BadgerCare program about their current health care coverage experience.  The Department is also seeking input from families whose income is too high to qualify for the BadgerCare program but don’t have access to affordable health care.


Comments about the proposed program can be emailed to [email protected]


To learn more about BadgerCare Plus visit: http://dhfs.wisconsin.gov/badgercareplus.