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Senate Bill 87: healthcare assistance for South Dakota farmers, ranchers

Senate Bill 87, “an act to exempt health benefit plans sponsored by nonprofit agricultural organizations from insurance regulation” was brought before the state legislature.
Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 1:10 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2021 at 5:11 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The South Dakota Legislature is currently discussing a bill that may impact health insurance for farmers and ranchers and other small business owners.

Senate Bill 87, “an act to exempt health benefit plans sponsored by nonprofit agricultural organizations from insurance regulation” was brought before the state legislature.

The bill, backed by the South Dakota Farm Bureau, would help farmers, ranchers, even small business owners who do not qualify for group healthcare plans. The South Dakota Farm Bureau president said the idea is to provide lower health care costs with good coverage.

”It’s been a real source of stress for farmers and ranchers and small business people in the last few years because there’s a demographic out there that either don’t qualify for subsidies or the tax credits under the affordable care act or they’ve chosen to go without insurance because of the cost of healthcare insurance or coverage,” said Scott VanderWal, the South Dakota Farm Bureau president.

The policy is based on one the Tennesse Farm Bureau has been using for years and would be open to any member of the SD Farm Bureau. But a South Dakota insurance agency doesn’t agree with creating an unregulated healthcare option.

”This law, if passed by the South Dakota legislature endangers consumers by allowing completely unregulated health benefit plans to be sold in South Dakota,” said Carolyn Hofer, Independent Insurance Agents of South Dakota executive vice president. “And consumers rely on regulation.”

Hofer said if the bill passes, people could be charged higher premiums, denied coverage, or excluded due to preexisting conditions. The bill was passed by the Senate and House ag committees and will now be discussed on the House floor.

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