Land O’Lakes has expanded its Member Cooperative Health Plan into Nebraska and Kansas.

Initially exclusively for its member cooperatives in their home state of Minnesota, Land O’Lakes now offers a benefits solution to three states and plans to continue expanding.

“More than 5,500 employees have already enrolled, experiencing firsthand the benefits and proven results of this unique opportunity,” said Brooke Dillon, communications manager for Land O’Lakes. “More than 50 cooperatives have handed off frustrating annual renewal negotiations and resource-consuming employee benefits administration to the Land O’Lakes Member Cooperative Health Plan.”

This plan began in 2017, when a Minnesota-specific state statute allowed Land O’Lakes to offer health coverage to individual Minnesota farmers through a self-insured plan in partnership with Gravie, a Minneapolis-based benefits marketplace. A pilot plan was effective Jan. 1, 2018, and was successful. After the pilot, they expanded into Nebraska and now into Kansas, she said.

Land O’Lakes has been proactive in fighting to create more affordable options for its individual members and co-ops nationwide, Dillon said. The expansion into Nebraska marked the first time that any organization has sponsored a self-insured multi-state group plan under new federal regulations issued this summer.

The plan is offered to almost 15,000 eligible farmers in Minnesota and nearly 28,000 farmers in Nebraska.

Farmers participating in the Land O’Lakes Cooperative Farmer Member Health Plan can choose from several ACA compliant plans — all of which cover each of the 10 essential health benefits.

“Eligible farmers can take advantage of plans that are generally more affordable and comprehensive than those offered in the individual market,” Dillon said. “Those with pre-existing conditions are not barred from participation, and premiums are not based on a participant’s health condition.”

The plan can be available to eligible Class A and C cooperatives in a variety of states. With guidance from Gravie, member producers, co-op member farmers and their employees can select a plan that is best for them.

“Gravie can also help to see if you’re eligible for tax credits, which could lower your monthly premiums,” she said. “If you used the program last year and are currently enrolled, Gravie will reach out about 2019 enrollment.”

For individual members, Gravie offers ancillary benefits as well, including dental insurance, life insurance and vision insurance.

The plan could be available to eligible co-ops in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

The annual enrollment period for 2019 coverage is open now through Dec. 15. For Nebraska member producers and member farmers of participating co-ops, contact Gravie at 844-538-4690 or go to www.gravie.com/necoop. For the National Program contact Gravie at 877-660-7742 or go to www.gravie.com/nationalcoop. For retailers, contact Gravie at 844-540-8701 or go to www.gravie.com. Co-ops contact 844-538-4690 or go to www.gravie.com/mncoop.

Jon Burleson can be reached at jon.burleson@lee.net.

Jon Burleson is the Midwest Messenger reporter, based out of eastern Nebraska. Reach him at jon.burleson@lee.net.