Bill meant to benefit self-employed workers could lead to insurance battle

WICHITA, Kan. A new bill approved by the Kansas Senate would provide an affordable health-insurance option for the self employed, including farmers and ranchers.

A midwestern farmer tills and fertilizes his land near Omaha Nebraska., Photo Date: 1988 / Photo: Scott Stewart / DoD / (MGN)

But at least one Kansas insurance company says it will drive up costs. The insurance would be offered by the Kansas Farm Bureau and rural lawmakers support the bill to make it available.

The idea is to help farmers who can't afford insurance, but it would not have to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act. This means Farm Bureau would not be required to cover people with pre-existing medical issues.

The insurance wouldn't be regulated either. It may be cheaper, but some worry it will pull healthy people away from traditional plans, eventually driving up costs.

One lawmaker in support of the bill says the health insurance works more like life insurance. Members will be given a health rating and that's how prices will be set.

But traditional insurance companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas are fighting the bill and worry its passage would spike health insurance premiums, particularly those who are sick and need it most.

A statement from Blue Cross Blue Shield says, "We need to work together to find solutions that will help make health insurance more affordable to all Kansans." It goes on to say, "That type of public policy will only result in higher costs for those most in need of comprehensive health benefits."

The bill intended to benefit self-employed workers now goes to the Kansas House for consideration. That hearing is set for Wednesday afternoon.