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How can I pay for my family's health care needs?

Providing adequate health care coverage is one of the most serious concerns for self-employed farmers.  Many farmers do not carry health insurance and try not to think about it. However, there are a number of strategies that will allow you to cover health care costs.

Strategies:

  • Obtain affordable health insurance through a group plan (see resources below).
  • Hold a non-farm job that provides health insurance.
  • Rely on your spouse's job to provide family health insurance.
  • Self-insure by establishing a fund to pay for your own health care costs. When considering this option, assess your health history and lifestyle.
  • Take advantage of IRS provisions that allow deductions for health savings accounts and health insurance premiums (see below).

Resources:

  • Mass Health. Mass Health is a state-funded program that can cover some medical costs for eligible individuals and families. http://www.mahealthconnector.org/portal/site/connector/
  • Massachusetts Insurance Partnership. The Massachusetts Insurance Partnership offers assistance for eligible self-employed people by reimbursing some of the cost of health insurance. They also work with small businesses to reimburse some of the cost of providing insurance to their employees. http://insurancepartnership.org/who/index.asp
  • Massachusetts Farm Bureau. Membership provides access to good rates for health insurance through Farm Family Insurance. Farm Bureau also offers reduced rates for dental care. http://www.massfarmbureau.com/.
  • Chambers of Commerce. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce using the web address above or look them up in the phone book. Health insurance at group rates is usually a service offered to Chamber of Commerce members. .http://www.2chambers.com/massachu2.htm
  • Community Health Centers. Community health centers can set fees on a sliding scale basis, provide free care when necessary, and help you identify programs for which you may be eligible.
  • Health Savings Accounts. You can set money aside in a health savings account that is tax-free if the money is spent in the same year. State Farm Bank now offers health savings accounts in conjunction with a high-deductible health insurance policy for self-insured people. Contact a State Farm agent for details. http://www.statefarm.com/
  • Tax Deductions. Take advantage of the fact that self-employed individuals may be eligible to deduct 100% of their health insurance premiums to reduce their taxable income.  See IRS Publication 535 for details. http://www.irs.ustreas.gov/
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