Among the survey findings:

• “One out of five Missouri farmers and ranchers surveyed reported that healthcare costs contributed to their financial problems, including, making it difficult to pay off farm or ranch loans, increasing the need to seek secondary employment away from the farm and causing them to delay farm investments.

• “People with high premium policies spent significantly more overall on health care than those who had low premium policies.

• “Farm families insured through the individual market spent over two thousand dollars more than those insured through off-farm or ranch employment.

• “Farmers and ranchers who bought insurance in the individual market overwhelmingly reported relying on the costliest types of policies—those with high premiums and high deductibles.

As for how best to approach the rural health care problems, MRCC suggests “effective solutions will likely require a combination of policies to improve access and affordability for farm families. Possible solutions include:

• “Increasing opportunities for farmers and other small businesses to benefit from health insurance pools, such as, creating purchasing pools for small businesses or allowing them to buy into existing insurance pools.

• “Requiring insurance companies to spend a certain percentage of the premiums they take in on medical care for their insured.

• “Demanding that insurance companies doing business in Missouri offer low deductible policies with affordable premiums.

• “Increasing access to effective public insurance programs.”