The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, is campaigning to have more rural Americans sign up for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act before the enrollment deadline ends on Monday, March 31st. Vilsack says changes to health insurance coverage helps protect rural Americans who may have lost their insurance before the ACA was implemented.
“It is a population in which farmers and ranchers are exposed to the dangers of farming with all of the equipment that they have to deal with,” Vilsack said. “They could be faced with some serious illnesses or injuries that could result, in the past, in losing their coverage.”
Young farmers and a growing population of senior rural residents are the targets of the secretary’s efforts to get more Americans to sign up for health insurance through federal and state exchange programs.
Vilsack said some of the benefits of the ACA include better preventative care options, lower prescription drug costs, and the ability for small community clinics to afford the cost of serving in remote areas of the nation.
“Someone makes the decision not to be insured and then is confronted with an injury or illness and expects the rest of us to bear the cost,” he said. “That doesn’t seem quite right to me. And I suspect if you went out and polled people in rural areas and you asked them I suspect that they would say that is not fair.”
Under the ACA, seasonal farmers who are working in the U.S. illegally are not required to have health insurance in order to receive medical care. Vilsack said his department is asking farmers and ranchers to contact their members of congress to request they pass a comprehensive immigration reform plan, because having insured workers will cut emergency room costs and overall health care charges.