Minnesota Republicans are praising new agriculture co-op health insurance options as more than 1,700 Minnesotans have signed up. The Star Tribune reported this week that 40 Square cooperative saw more than 1,000 enrollments, with an additional 700 enrollments for a new agriculture co-op health plan offered by Land O’Lakes.
The 1,700 signups in year one outpaced enrollment for the first three years of MNsure’s now-defunct Small Business Health Options (SHOP) program, an exchange for Minnesota businesses with fewer than 50 employees. The agriculture co-ops have no cost to taxpayers, while MNsure cost taxpayers more than $400 million to build and $45 million per year to operate.
“Agriculture co-ops are already helping hundreds of families in rural communities lower their health care costs and improve network access” said Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, who chief authored the agriculture co-op provision. The co-op language was included in the premium relief bill passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor that provided financial assistance to Minnesotans on the individual market while making key reforms to improve Minnesota’s individual market. “Rural Minnesota has been hit especially hard by Obamacare, so it’s encouraging to see Republican-led reforms already making a difference.”
Founded by Cooperative Network, the Minnesota and Wisconsin state trade association of cooperatives, and United Farmers Cooperative (UFC), an agricultural supply cooperative based in Winthrop, Minnesota, 40 Square offers a self-funded health plan with six benefit options to choose from. Additional benefits such as dental, vision, and life are also available.
A Land O’Lakes spokeswoman told the Star Tribune during their pilot year, 318 farmers enrolled, resulting in more than 700 individuals gaining health coverage through the program.