by Rodney Mattos

Farm Workers Essentials PlansLately, Stewart and Lynda have found it challenging to hire reliable workers for their orchard. The growers down the road have offered their employees benefits, which has attracted the best workers in the area. But Stewart and Lynda have been reluctant to provide health insurance because their workers compensation costs are high and they don’t think their business can afford another employee-related expense.

When they asked the neighboring growers about their experiences, they shared something unexpected – by offering their employees health coverage, their workers comp costs went down. Why? When employees have easy access to health care, they can get the treatments they need instead of filing a workers comp claim. That was an a-ha moment for Stewart and Lynda.

Because Stewart and Lynda have just 25 seasonal employees, they aren’t required to provide health insurance. But for larger businesses, it’s the law: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that health insurance is offered to at least 95% of your workers if you have 50 or more full-time employees.

What if many of your employees are seasonal? If you have 50 or more full-time workers for more than 120 days a year (regardless of whether they’re consecutive), your business is subject to the ACA mandate as well.

For businesses with seasonal employees, one of your best options is a Farm & Ranch Essentials Plan. Affordable and easy to manage, Farm & Ranch Essentials offers each employee access to a primary care physician and specialists, hospital and urgent care, diagnostics (including lab work, MRI, and CT scans), and a pharmacy card – all at reasonable rates that aren’t dependent on your location.

With a Farm & Ranch Essentials Plan, seasonal employees have peace of mind that they can receive care when needed. Their coverage is guaranteed and provided as a pretax benefit. Employers also benefit in a variety of ways:

  • Employees that receive immediate medical care for minor ailments are more productive and return to work faster
  • For many employees, benefits are as important as wages when choosing where to work
  • Employer contributions to health plans are tax-deductible
  • Businesses with 50+ full-time employees avoid ACA tax penalties

Farm & Ranch Essentials Plans satisfy ACA requirements by providing 10 essential benefits with the insurer covering at least 60% of the healthcare costs. Unique among seasonal employee health plans, Farm & Ranch Essentials coverage can be purchased for a minimum of 5 employees. The cost for each plan is often less than $200 a month, which satisfies the ACA’s affordability requirement.

For employees to qualify for Farm & Ranch Essentials, they only need a green card or a Social Security number and they’re accepted regardless of age or health.

While individuals won’t pay a penalty for not having health insurance in 2019, employers with 50 or more workers will be fined by the IRS for not offering at least 95% of their full-time workers with coverage. This year, employer penalties start at $2,500 per employee and could be as high as $3,750. But it’s not just about avoiding penalties – providing affordable coverage to your seasonal employees can make your business more efficient and help you retain the best workers.

When Stewart and Lynda realized that providing their employees with affordable health coverage could help them attract quality workers and save their business money, they signed up for the Farm & Ranch Essentials Plan. For them, it only made dollars and sense.

To get the conversation started, call a Kelly Miller Insurance agribusiness specialist at (888) 217-3476 or visit Farm & Ranch for more info.

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