Distrust of insurance companies and big government is leading at least one organic farm family in Nebraska to say no to Obamacare, and they say they know the solution to the nation’s health problems. The Bernt family of Spalding has decided to pay the penalties imposed by the Affordable Care Act rather than participate in health insurance exchanges.
Bob and Kristine Bernt are not going to participate in the exchanges because of a very bad experience with the health insurance industry 20 years ago. The couple, who operate a 700 acre organic farm, say they were almost bankrupted by a legal dispute with a health insurance company.
“It left us in a really bad way,” Bob Bernt told Harvest Public Media. “We were unable to purchase any food – nothing. And that’s when we walked away.”
The Bernts have not had health insurance for nearly 20 years because of that experience. Instead, they pay all of the health care costs for themselves and their 12 children out of pocket. Their family includes a daughter Rosie who has cerebral palsy and is forced to use a wheelchair.
Instead of buying health insurance, the Bernts will pay the tax penalty mandated by Obamacare. The penalty starts at $95 for adults and will eventually rise to $285 per adult or 1 percent of a household’s income – whichever is higher. Bob Bernt is so embittered at the health insurance system that he would rather pay more taxes than participate in it.
The Bernt family could probably qualify for a subsidy that would cover part of their health insurance costs, but Bob Bernt wants nothing to do with the subsidy because of his loathing of insurance companies.
Belief in Organics Drives Opposition
Part of their objection to Obamacare stems from their belief in organic food. Bob Bernt believes that promoting better diets and lifestyles will do more to reduce health care costs
“If we can get this country eating healthy we will reduce the health care costs in it,” he said.
Health care costs are too high and a burden on working people, he said.
“There’s got to be some way people can live with security and not have to go to bed at night worrying about what might happen and how they could lose their farm or lose their small business because of the ever-growing cost of health care,” Brent said. Yet he has no faith in either the government or the insurance industry’s ability to fix the problem.
The Bernts raise melons, corn and other organic crops, chickens, ducks, hogs and grass-fed cattle at Clear Creek Organic Farms. They also produce a variety of organic dairy products including raw milk at the farm. The motto of the farm, which has been in the Bernt family for over 125 years, is “producing healthy foods for healthy families.”
Grass Roots Resistance to Obamacare
The Bernts are far from alone in their distrust of Obamacare. A poll conducted by the University of Nebraska found that 58 percent of the state’s rural residents don’t think Obamacare will reduce health care costs.
The same poll determined that 46 percent of rural Nebraskans think they will be worse off because of the Affordable Care Act. Only 5 percent felt that they would be better off because of the law.
The Nebraska Rural Poll found that only around 2 percent of the state’s rural residents planned to go without health insurance year.