воскресенье, 30 сентября 2012 г.

Health Insurance as a New Indicator of Farm Households' Well-Being - Amber Waves

As with all households, the basic indicators of farm household well-being-income and wealth-do not fully capture information about well-being, Because medical care is relatively expensive and can significantly affect morbidity and mortality, the incidence of health insurance coverage among populations is an important indicator of well-being, Since farming is a relatively dangerous occupation, health insurance coverage is critical, Health insurance provides individuals or groups with a contractual arrangement for personal medical expenses to be covered (usually, in part) in exchange for a fee paid to insurance companies.

Most Americans receive health insurance coverage through employer-sponsored programs, Farmers are generally self-employed, raising the possibility that farm households might be less likely to have health insurance, However, USDA's 2006 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) data clearly show that individuals in farm operator households are, in fact, somewhat more likely to have health insurance coverage than the general U.S. population, The Bureau of the Census reports that 84.2 percent of the U.S. population had some form of health insurance for any part of 2006, compared with 86,2 percent of the members of farm operator households.

Although farmers are largely self-employed, the operator and/or spouse also are employed off the farm in two-thirds of farm households, As with the general population, the most common source of health insurance for members of farm households is employment-based, In fact, farm household members are almost as likely as the general U.S. population to receive health insurance through an outside employer.

Farm households without the operator or spouse working at a nonfarm job are the least likely to have health insurance, However, these farm operator households are more likely to be elderly and, consequently, are often eligible to receive health insurance from a government program-virtually all U.S. citizens age 65 or older have some coverage through Medicare, Some households in which neither the operator nor the spouse works off the farm have employment-based health insurance coverage from previous nonfarm employers or as employees of their own farm businesses.

Farm households with large operations (with sales of $250,000 or more), because they are more fully employed on the farm, are less likely to have an operator or spouse working off the farm than other farm households, Large-farm households are more likely to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance provider.

The indicators of health insurance coverage provide more evidence of the strong links between farm household well-being and the nonfarm economy, The average farm household receives 85 percent of its income from off-farm sources, and off-farm work has become the major source of health insurance coverage, These new indicators show that the farm population generally has found the means to acquire health insurance.

This finding is drawn from...

ERS Briefing Room on Farm Household Economics and Well-Being, www.ers.usda.gov/briefing/wellbeing/

[Author Affiliation]

суббота, 29 сентября 2012 г.

FARMERS RECEIVE HEALTH SERVICES THROUGH EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY AGRISAFE-NORTH CAROLINA - US Fed News Service, Including US State News

GREENVILLE, N.C., Jan. 15 -- East Carolina University issued the following press release:

They work in one of the most dangerous professions in North Carolina, yet about 27 percent of the state's agricultural families do not have health insurance, according to research by the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute at East Carolina University and the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.

Many farmers must choose between paying for farm operations and paying for health insurance, which can cost as much as $500 to $1200 per individual. And if farmers do visit a doctor's office, their physician may not consider the unique occupational hazards they face, such as skin cancer, respiratory illness, arthritis and mental health disorders, said Robin Tutor, interim director of the N.C. Agromedicine Institute.

'We all enjoy farmers' products every day. We eat them; we wear them. These people provide us with so much, so we need to serve our farmers in return,' Tutor said.

In an effort to improve health for farmers and their families, the institute has brought AgriSafe-North Carolina, a program that provides agricultural occupational health and safety screenings at low to no-cost, to eastern North Carolina.

Through AgriSafe-NC, the institute partners with Tri-County Community Health Council to provide health screenings and follow-up health services for farmers, their families and non-migrant farm workers. Services are provided at the Carolina Oaks Health Center in Four Oaks or at other locations convenient for the individual such as a farm, agribusiness, Cooperative Extension office or other community location.

'We want to be as accessible as possible,' Tutor said.

AgriSafe staff includes a family nurse practitioner, community outreach worker and family advocate. Services include health care with an emphasis on agricultural exposures, as well as education and outreach to prevent illness and injury on the farm. Staff can help to identify resources for affordable dental care, medications, diabetic supplies and dealing with family challenges. Farmers can also select and be fitted with personal protective equipment such as respirators, safety glasses, hearing protection and chemical resistant clothing for the prevention of injury and illness.

Tutor called this a 'one-stop shop.' 'We want to look at the farm family's total wellbeing, not just their physical wellbeing. We want to address the whole person,' she said. 'And we recognize that farmers have unique demands on their time and resources.' Carolina Oaks is open five days a week. Evening and weekend appointments at the clinic or in the community can also be arranged. Fees vary depending on services received and where services are rendered. Many services are provided at a free or reduced cost.

The AgriSafe Network started in Iowa, where it has been successful in reducing health insurance claims costs for farmers. A $100,000 grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust Foundation funded the one-year pilot program in eastern North Carolina, targeting Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett, Johnston, Pender, Robeson, Sampson and Wayne counties.

Funding will continue through March, and Tutor said the institute is actively seeking new partners among agribusinesses and non-profit foundations to keep the program going.

For more information about AgriSafe or to request services, call the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute at 252-744-1000 or Carolina Oaks Family Health Center at 919-963-6400.For more information about US Fed News contract awards please contact: Sarabjit Jagirdar, US Fed News, Email:- htsyndication@hindustantimes.com.

пятница, 28 сентября 2012 г.

Health insurance of rural/township schoolchildren in Pinggu, Beijing: coverage rate, determinants, disparities, and sustainability.(Research)(Report) - International Journal for Equity in Health

Authors: Jane M Zhu (corresponding author) [1,2,3]; Yiliang Zhu [4]; Rui Liu [5,6]

Background

By the 1970s, nearly all urban Chinese population and 85% rural residents were covered under a health insurance scheme[1]. Market-oriented reform in the following decades witnessed the disintegration of the healthcare system and the disappearance of the public insurance systems[2]. By 2003, insurance coverage fell to 54-55% in urban population with only 12% of the poorest fifth covered[3, 4], while 79% (640 million) rural residents were without insurance due to the dissolution of agricultural communes that had served as the primary payer[2, 3, 5]. In the meantime, out-of-pocket medical costs climbed steadily[2, 6], healthcare utilization declined[3], and barriers to healthcare rose, particularly for the poor and the rural [7, 8].

In 1998 the Chinese government began to establish a basic health insurance scheme (BHIS) for registered urban workers and retirees[9]. The cooperative BHIS does not, however, cover children or other dependents[9, 10]. In 1994 the government began to pilot a new rural cooperative medical system (RCMS) in rural areas[11], expanding the program to 310 counties by 2004[5, 12] and aiming to cover the entire rural population by 2010. Only farmers are eligible for RCMS and enrollment is voluntary in unit of a household. As of 2006, households, local, and central governments each contributed no less than 20 yuan (RMB) per enrollee[13]. Amid these fundamental reforms, health insurance access and coverage of schoolchildren is largely unknown[8]. Except for a few earlier studies on children's health insurance coverage using data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey prior to 1997[6, 8], studies on healthcare access, outcomes, and disparities between urban and rural populations generally have not examined children [14, 15, 16]. For instance, the 2003 Third National Health Services Survey (NHSS) remained non-specific to the country's 270 million children[3]; another study by Xu et al [4] only considered age-group insurance coverage for urban population based on the 2003 NHSS data.

As China adopts national and regional cooperative schemes to re-establish a national health insurance system, achieving and sustaining a high enrollment rate are a benchmark for program success. It is thus critical to identify barriers to enrollment, uncover disparities among rural and urban populations, and evaluate perceived and tangible benefits of existing cooperative schemes. Based on a survey of elementary schoolchildren, this paper focuses on disparate health insurance coverage among farmers' and non-farmers' children, along with their access to and utilization of healthcare under various insurance schemes. It also discusses potential threats to sustainable insurance enrollment, and recommends measures for program improvement.

Methods

Study Setting

Pinggu is a mountainous district in eastern Beijing; over 75% of its 397,000 residents are farmers and 60% of land area agricultural. The area represents a growing segment of rural China that is in close proximity to major cities and is undergoing rapid socioeconomic transition. The BHIS was established there in 2001 and the RCMS in 2004. Beginning in the 1990s, a

Student Safety and Health Insurance (SSHI) program was introduced through local school administrations in partnership with commercial vendors. The SSHI charges an annual premium of 60 to a hundred some yuan (RMB), reimburses partially medical expenses incurring from major events such as surgery and hospitalization. In September 2004, the local Red Cross, municipal Education Commission, and Bureau of Hygiene and Health jointly established a Children's Hospitalization Cooperative Fund (CHCF), which offers a not-for-profit, cooperative scheme to all local schoolchildren. At a 50-yuan annual premium, CHCF progressively covers up to 50% medical expenses, with a cap of 80,000 yuan/year, for hospitalization, surgery, and special treatments such as chemotherapy and dialysis. Schoolchildren thus have choices among SSHI, CHCF, RCMS, or commercial schemes.

Survey

Four primary schools were selected from 108 by Pinggu's Education Bureau. All first and fourth graders were invited. A questionnaire was distributed in class, and filled by a parent or guardian of each class-attending student. Of 611 questionnaires distributed, 490 (80%) were returned. The questionnaire collected demographic and socioeconomic information, child's health status, insurance coverage, healthcare access and utilization, and parental perceptions of the health insurance system and healthcare system. Data on insurance included the child's insurance status, history, premium, and benefits. Parental perception about insurance and healthcare systems consisted of satisfaction, expectations of service, and perceived barriers.

Statistical Analysis

S-Plus 6.2

[R] (Insightful, Seattle) was used for analysis. Descriptive statistics for selected demographic factors and their association with insurance status were reported. Adjusted odds ratios via logistic regression, their confidence interval, and likelihood ratio tests were calculated to evaluate potential determinants to insurance coverage. Disparities in care access and utilization between farmers' and non-farmers' children were analyzed through chi-squared tests.

Results

Sample Characteristics

Table 1 summarizes household characteristics. Of 494 participating children in total, including four pairs of twins, 55.0% (n = 260) were female and 45.0% (n = 213) were male, 21 did not report gender. There were 319 (66.0%) one-child households, while 164 (34.0%) households had two or more children. The sample children were generally healthy, with 88.6% of parents reporting children in very good or excellent health.

Table 1 caption: Children's Characteristics and Health Insurance Status [table omitted]

Farming was the single-most common occupation, with 34.5% (n = 164) households having two farming-parents, and 6.5% (n = 31) households having one farming-parent, respectively. About 11% (n = 53) households had at least one unemployed parent. Fifteen percent households had annual incomes over 35,000 yuan, but three-quarters of both-farmer-parent households earned 10,000 yuan or less. The majority of household heads (60.7%) had completed high school or beyond, and over half (53.1%) reported having health insurance of their own.

Rate of Insurance Coverage and Determinants

Overall, 54% (n = 249) children had some type of health insurance, although the coverage was uneven across a number of factors (table 1). Decisions to buy insurance for a child was not associated with gender (p = 0.79), age (p = 0.50), or general health (p = 0.14). Household per capita income did not significantly influence the decision either (p = 0.12). However, children of an insured parent were more than twice as likely to have insurance as those of uninsured parents (74% vs. 33%, p < 0.001). Households of 1-2 children were more likely to have insurance for the participating child than those with more children (53% vs. 30%, p = 0.012). While only 33% of households in the lowest education group enrolled their children in an insurance program, the rate rose steadily to 63% among households in the post-secondary education group (p = 0.002). Interestingly, the coverage rate among farming households (with at least one farming parent) was comparable to that of government/state enterprise employed parents (58% vs. 61%), but higher than households of other occupations.

The decision to enroll a child in an insurance scheme results from the interplay of healthcare need and cost-benefit considerations. We used a logistic regression model to evaluate the impact of potential surrogates of cost and benefit on the decision to enroll, and present adjusted odds ratios (OR) for insurance in Table 2. On the affordability (cost) end, families with 3+ children were only 38% as likely to have insurance for a child as families with 1-2 children (OR = 0.38, CI = 0.11-1.40, p = 0.002); farmer's households (OR = 7.22) and those with an unemployed parent (OR = 2.57) were more likely to buy insurance than households of non-unemployed, non-farmer parents (p-value = 0.03). It is noteworthy that the rate of coverage among households that perceived insurance to be affordable was comparable to that among households unable to afford insurance (OR = 1.07). In contrast, households with neutral perceptions about insurance affordability or just somewhat positive were much less likely to have insurance (OR = 0.47, 0.65, respectively, p < 0.001). On the perceived 'benefit' end, children of uninsured parents were much less likely to have insurance than those with an insured parent (OR = 0.01, p < 0.001); parents who had positive opinion about the insurance system were more than 3 times as likely to buy insurance for the child as those who one level less positive in terms of satisfaction ('dissatisfied', 'neutral/somewhat satisfied', 'satisfied') (OR = 3.17, p < 0.001). Parental educational level, as a multi-faceted factor related to affordability, as well as knowledge and perceptions about insurance, did not influence a child's insurance status if the parent was also insured, but played a promotional role if the parent was uninsured: parents of a given level of education were 2.59 times as likely to enroll a child as their counterpart whose education was one level lower (OR = 2.59, p-value < 0.001).

Table 2 caption: Determinants of and Barriers to Children's Health Insurance [table omitted]

Disparity in Coverage

Although disparity in children's coverage was muted between farmers and non-farmers' households, it existed with respect to the type of insurance programs. Compared with low-premium schemes RCMS, CHCF, and SSHI, commercial policies required an annual premium as high as 10,000 yuan, with a median of 1,000 yuan. Farmers' children were enrolled overwhelmingly in low-premium schemes (i.e. RCMS, CHCF, or SSHI), rather than commercial options (75.7% vs. 24.3%); in contrast, 58% and 40% of children in the 'non-farmer & employed' and 'non-farmer & unemployed' occupational groups, respectively, were covered under a commercial policy ([chi]

2 = 25.3, p = 0, Table 3).Table 3 caption: Primary Insurance Scheme1 by Parental Occupation2 [table omitted]

Care Access and Utilization

Did insurance coverage, particularly the cooperative, low-premium schemes, improve schoolchildren's access to and utilization of care? Table 4 presents results from our comparison of three groups: uninsured, insured under low-premium schemes, and insured under commercial schemes. We found that insurance coverage generally improved access to care. Among the group covered under a low-premium or cooperative scheme, 43% parents perceived little difficulty in healthcare access compared with 15% who had difficulty; among parents whose child was under a commercial scheme, the percentage was 51% vs. 8%; for uninsured children, only 24% of parents perceived no difficulty, while 17% did. This pronounced difference (p < 0.001) suggested that both commercial and cooperative schemes improved parental perceptions of healthcare access. However, 24% parents whose children were enrolled in a low-premium scheme felt healthcare to be unaffordable, compared with 14% and 18% under commercial schemes and uninsured, respectively. Conversely, 58%, 62%, and 52% of parents in the low-premium, commercial, and uninsured groups, respectively, felt healthcare to be affordable. These group differences (p = 0.08) implied that the low-premium schemes only provided limited relief of financial burden despite perceptions of improved access.

Table 4 caption: Disparities in Healthcare Access and Utilization [table omitted]

These differential perceptions of access and affordability were also mirrored in the incidence of delayed or forgone care. When ill, 13.2% children under a low-premium scheme delayed care-seeking, compared with 17.9% of those under a commercial scheme and 23.6% of the uninsured. When comparing only the low-premium group with the uninsured, the difference in delayed care was more statistically pronounced (p = 0.05). Similarly, compared to the uninsured, children under a low-premium or commercial plan were less likely to forego care when ill (14.3% and 11.5% vs. 24.5%, p = 0.009). Because the three groups of children were generally healthy and similar in baseline health, the differences in health-seeking behaviors were likely attributable to the security afforded by insurance. However, as indicated by self-reported 12-month outpatient visitation data, care utilization patterns did not differ among the three groups (p = 0.796, Table 4). This observation suggests that the existing insurance schemes did not translate perceived improvements in access and affordability into improved care utilization, because most schemes did not alleviate the financial burden associated with routine care. On a positive note, overall satisfaction with healthcare was significantly higher among parents of an insured child than their uninsured counterparts (p = 0.01), with no marked difference between the low-premium and commercial insurance groups.

Barriers to Enrollment

To further understand barriers to enrollment to and sustainability for cooperative programs, we probed parental concerns regarding children's insurance specifically and the existing insurance system in general. Table 5 shows that parents of an insured child were three times as likely to be positive about the insurance system as those of an uninsured child (48% vs. 16%), and that they were much less likely to be dissatisfied (13% vs. 31%). The difference suggested that direct experience with health insurance reinforced a better understanding and more positive opinion of the insurance system. However, leading concerns about insurance were rather similar among the three groups. High cost, followed by limited benefits, was the leading concern among over half of parents whose children either were uninsured or participated in a low-premium scheme. Although over half of the uninsured group were willing to enroll if the cost was low enough (58%) or if benefits improved (50%), only 3.7% in this group viewed health insurance as a necessity, underlining some fundamental barriers to insurance enrollment. Lack of knowledge about insurance appeared to be another barrier. Among those whose child was covered under a low-premium scheme, 4.3% indicated a lack of insurance knowledge; but this rate was three times as high among parents with an uninsured child. Distrust of business practice, lack of government oversight, and poor service quality were among other parental concerns about the insurance system.

Table 5 caption: Surrogate Barriers to Insurance [table omitted]

Discussion

This survey shows that health insurance coverage for schoolchildren in Pinggu had risen in two waves, from 14% in 1999 to 44% in 2003, and to 54% in 2005. Commercial policies were the main vehicle prior to 1999; SSHI drove the first wave during 2000-2003; CHCF and RCMS later became major players, nearly doubling insurance rate among farmers' children. Although greater than a 1997 estimate of 20%[8] and a 2003 estimate of 43%[4], the current coverage rate of 54% remained low. Because of the high costs, commercial schemes remained unaffordable for most low and moderate income households, especially farming households. As a result, farmers' children largely depended on low-premium and cooperative schemes for insurance coverage that does not provide benefits for routine healthcare and are also low in reimbursement for covered medical events. While cooperative schemes such as RCMS and CHCF are becoming the principle insurance vehicle for schoolchildren, overlapping among these low-premium schemes in coverage, benefits, cost-reimbursement structure forces enrollees to choose one scheme over another. This was likely one reason why only 10% of insured farmers' children were under the RCMS, compared with 51% in the SSHI and 14% in the CHCF.

Perceived affordability played a delicate role in purchasing schoolchildren's health insurance. It is puzzling that those who appeared least or most able to afford insurance were more likely to enroll than their counterparts who were somewhat able to afford insurance. One explanation is that the somewhat-affordable may feel that the limited benefit options were unworthy of the premium even if it is low, whereas the unaffordable may value the basic protection against catastrophic events. This explanation echoes the argument of Chernew

et al .[17] that universal coverage may not be achievable by reducing premiums alone. A recent study of villagers in Guizhou province China reports that 29% of the participants did not enroll in RCMS even when given a subsidy for the premium[18]. Low premiums may make insurance schemes more affordable, but narrow benefits may make them less practical, thereby dampening consumers' willingness-to-pay. For enrollees in cooperative schemes, substantial out-of-pocket co-payments have been found to be necessary in order to sustain the programs[19], thus adversely affecting healthcare access and diminishing the value of insurance policies[19, 20]. Findings from this study reflected this phenomenon.

Our analysis suggests that by affording the enrollees a sense of security, the existing insurance schemes had improved perceived care access and affordability, and had also reduced delayed or forgone care. These improvements among those with a low premium policy over those uninsured were especially attributable to having insurance because insurance enrollment was neither driven by poor health nor promoted by a low premium. Insured children did not utilize more outpatient care than uninsured children, however, confirming that the existing insurance schemes did not alleviate the financial burden for routine care, and were ineffective in improving overall affordability. This argument is further supported by our findings that large portions of the insured under a low-premium scheme remained less positive about their access to and affordability of healthcare (57% and 42%, respectively).

The World Bank reported that in 2003 total contribution to the new RCMS from all sources covered only 20% of total household healthcare spending among enrolled Chinese farming households[5]. If enrollment to the cooperative schemes remains low, the programs may face adverse selection among enrollees and a shrinking pool of funds, which could threaten program sustainability and expansion[5, 21]. Thus improving tangible benefits is essential for sustaining and expanding enrollment. A recent analysis argued that better benefits and reimbursement with more government funding are necessary for the RCMS to sustain in less developed rural areas[19]. A second study found that a considerable number of urban residents (24%) were actually willing to buy a commercial policy to compensate for outpatient care expense[22]. Still another study showed that both willingness-to-pay and actual amount contributed for enrolling to the BHIS increased with added benefits[23]. Offering more benefit options with flexible premiums within the existing cooperative programs would allow consumers to choose policies to fit their needs and increase willingness-to-pay, thereby boosting program enrollment.

We observed that compared to their uninsured counterparts, parents themselves insured were an order of magnitude more likely to enroll their children, and once enrolled were two times more satisfied with the insurance system. In a study of U.S. parents, Guendelman and Pearl[24] also observed that positive parental experiences with and improved knowledge about health insurance system promoted children's access to insurance. It is likely that consumers' experience with and perception about health insurance reinforce one another, and adequate knowledge about insurance promotes positive experience and mediates perception. Thus, community outreach could be an effective means for educating parents about children's health insurance, therefore promoting children's insurance enrollment.

There is currently no national health insurance program designated for schoolchildren, making them vulnerable in securing access to healthcare. In response to this systemic gap, regional programs have been emerging in parts of China, forming essentially a second tier of schemes to cover schoolchildren. However, vast disparities in regional economic development and variations in healthcare needs underscore the gap between the existing monolithic system and variable healthcare needs. To address this challenge requires innovative strategies on the part of the government and industry. One feasible approach is to expand the second-tier regional programs such as the CHCF, in conjunction with commercial programs to supplement the national schemes.

Conclusion

The overwhelming choice of cooperative and low-premium insurance schemes among farmer's children reflected both their need for protection against major medical events and their willingness-to-pay or their affordability. Although these cooperative schemes did not fully meet schoolchildren's healthcare needs, especially with respect to routine care, they nonetheless positively impacted on perceived access to and affordability of healthcare, reduced undesirable health-seeking behaviors, and improved overall satisfaction with healthcare.

To increase the tangible value of existing health insurance programs, it is both necessary and feasible to offer more insurance options through expanding the national programs such as the RCMS or by developing second-tier, regional programs such as the CHCF to help cover routine healthcare needs.

Government should play a central role in funding and guiding national and regional health insurance programs, while simultaneously strengthen regulation of the health insurance market. Improved government oversight is not only high in consumer demand, but also will enhance consumer confidence in the healthcare system.

Improving parental knowledge about health insurance can help increase schoolchildren's insurance enrollment. The success of SSHI, by means of partnerships with school administrations, demonstrates that community outreach can be a highly effective marketing tool in educating the parents about children's health insurance.

Despite the small scale and specific scope of this study, our findings are relevant on a much larger scale, as Pinggu represents a large segment of Chinese rural/suburban townships. Findings from this study fill an important information gap for schoolchildren, are useful in guiding future evaluation of health insurance coverage, but need to be replicated on a larger scale. Evaluation of China's evolving healthcare needs and healthcare outcomes should be conducted on an ongoing basis. Integrating the evaluation of schoolchildren's insurance into this process by utilizing national resources such as the National Health Services Survey appears both attractive and feasible.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

JMZ participated in the conception, design, and conduct of this study. She led the efforts in the development of instruments, data collection, analysis, and draft of the paper. YZ participated in the conception and design of the study, development of the instruments, conducting data analysis, and the writing of the article. RL participated in the design, implementation, and conducting of the study. All read and approved the content of this paper.

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Author Affiliation:

[1] Harvard Medical School, 260 Longwood Ave, Rm. 233 Boston, MA 02115, USA

[2] Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University, P.O. Box 99712, Durham, NC 27708, USA

[3] Formally: Fudan University School of Public Health, Shanghai, PR China

[4] Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, College of Public Health, University of South Florida, 13201 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. MDC 56, Tampa, Florida 33612-3805, USA

[5] Health Services and Policy Analysis, 140 Warren Hall #7360, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720, USA

[6] Formally: Beijing University Guanghua School of Management, Haidian District, Beijing, 100871, PR China

Author Email: Jane M Zhu - jane_zhu@hms.harvard.edu; Yiliang Zhu - yzhu@health.usf.edu; Rui Liu - liur@gsm.pku.edu.cn

Article history:

Received Date: 8/1/2008

Accepted Date: 11/3/2008

Published Date: 11/3/2008

Article notes:

� 2008 Zhu et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

четверг, 27 сентября 2012 г.

Many farmers say insurance is unaffordable and go without. - Health & Medicine Week

2004 MAY 3 - (NewsRx.com & NewsRx.net) -- Farmers recognize that each year is a gamble that the right amounts of sun and rain will provide for their crops.

For some, going without health insurance is just one more game of chance.

'I've talked to many farmers who say, 'If it comes down to paying the grain bill to keep the farm going or paying for health insurance, I'll pay the grain bill and keep my fingers crossed,'' said Julia-Marie Bickford, executive director the Maine Dairy Industry Association.

As they struggle to make ends meet, many Maine farmers are forgoing health insurance. Many other self-employed Mainers are doing the same, but the choice is particularly risky for farmers, whose work is physically demanding and can result in injury.

'It's just incredibly expensive,' said Thomas Roberts, an uninsured vegetable grower in Pittsfield. 'We try to minimize costs, and that's a pretty big cost especially when it's not something you necessarily use.'

Some farmers lower insurance costs by taking off-farm work, or by having a spouse do so.

'If it wasn't for my wife, I wouldn't have it,' said James Richmond, a Pittsfield dairy farmer married to a nurse. 'It would be impossible for me. I don't know how anybody affords it, really.'

Some elect to farm on a part-time basis so they can keep a job that provides benefits.

'I can't farm full-time because I need to keep my family insured,' said Kevin Bacon, a Sidney dairy farmer.

Many farmers are older, adding to concerns about the uninsured. In 2002, according to a Department of Agriculture survey, there were nearly six times as many Maine farmers over 55 as there were younger than 35. And farming ranks third among professions likely to suffer on-the-job injuries, according to Bureau of Labor statistics.

But Jon Olson, executive secretary of the Maine Farm Bureau, said the people who grow the nation's food are not a high risk for insurers. Farmers, he said, are more physically fit than most Americans, and they're stoic, refusing to go to the doctor unless it's absolutely necessary.

Olson's Augusta-based agency offers health insurance at reduced rates to farmers, but he said many farmers do without the coverage.

'It's one more financial stress,' he said. 'It's a big issue.'

Some observers see hope for uninsured farmers from Governor John Baldacci's Dirigo Health Plan, which aims to lower health-insurance costs for the estimated 136,000 Mainers who lack coverage.

Edwin Porter, deputy commissioner at the Maine Department of Agriculture, said his agency is working with the governor's office to ensure that the program is helpful to farmers.

At this point, however, it's unclear how much the plan will cost and whether farmers will choose to pay for it.

'We think of the cows first sometimes,' said Richmond, the Pittsfield dairy farmer. 'We tend to think of ourselves last.'

среда, 26 сентября 2012 г.

Farmers Struggling With Insurance Costs - AP Online

DES MOINES, Iowa - The cost of health care in the U.S. is putting a pinch on many family farmers and ranchers who struggle to pay high premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, a new report has found.

About 90 percent of the more than 2,000 farmers and ranchers who were surveyed said they had some sort of health coverage, according to the 2007 Health Insurance Survey of Farm and Ranch Operators released Thursday.

However, many complained of high premiums, and more than a quarter said high out-of-pocket insurance costs were creating financial problems, the report found.

The money problems included using up savings, being forced to take off-farm employment, delaying investments in their operation, and difficulty paying rent, mortgage and other bills.

Most of the 10 percent of respondents who reported that all, or at least one family member was not insured at some point in 2006, said they did not have coverage because it was too expensive.

'Medical costs are way out of line,' one respondent said. 'Insurance company costs have gone way beyond affordable when income has stayed the same.'

Alana Knudsen, a co-author of the study, said the survey shows that policy solutions are needed 'to ensure that farm and ranch operators and other small business owners are able to pay for health care services in their rural communities.'

The study found that about 20 percent of farmers and ranchers had outstanding medical debt. One in six put off doctor visits because they could not afford medical services, they were uncomfortable about their outstanding medical debt, or their work demand was too great.

'The deductibles are too high, so you don't go to doctors as often as you should go,' a respondent said.

The report was based on telephone surveys earlier this year with farmers and ranchers in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Researchers at the University of North Dakota's Center for Rural Health, Brandeis University and The Access Project analyzed the results.

The study said the seven Great Plains states account for more than a quarter of the total U.S. agricultural market.

'For farmers and ranchers, health care expenses have the potential to affect not only their families' economic security, but the financial viability of their businesses, which in turn may impact the larger economy,' the report said.

Researchers pointed out that farmers and ranchers often must purchase more expensive insurance because they do not have an employer-sponsored plan to help offset costs.

'Those who purchase insurance in the non-group market are more likely to face financial strains due to medical costs than other insured people,' the study said.

About 36 percent of the farmers and operators said they purchased insurance directly, while another 10 percent had some sort of public insurance coverage such as Medicaid and Medicare. More than half of those surveyed, or 54 percent, said they were getting health coverage through off-farm employment of their own or their spouse's.

'If I did not have to pay health insurance coverage, I could devote all my time to farming and make more money, but I have to work in town to afford health insurance coverage,' a respondent said.

The study said that although farmers and ranchers may have higher incomes and net worth than average U.S. households, much of their cash is tied up in their operations, and that farm incomes can vary greatly from year-to-year.

Yvette Oloff, who raises cattle and row crops at a family farm in Persia, Iowa, said she lost health coverage when she left her job after suffering from lung problems in 2001. Since then, the family has gone $24,000 in debt to the local bank to pay insurance premiums and farm expenses.

'Instead of affording a new pickup, we go into debt for our health insurance,' she said.

----

On the Net:

The Access Project: http://www.accessproject.org/

University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health: http://www.med.und.nodak.edu/depts/rural/

вторник, 25 сентября 2012 г.

TOWN HALL MEETINGS TO ADDRESS FARMERS HEALTH COOPERATIVE OF WISCONSIN - US Fed News Service, Including US State News

Wisconsin State Rep. Jake Hines, R-Marquette (42nd District), issued the following news release:

State Representative J.A. 'Doc' Hines (R-Oxford) is pleased to announce the locations of two public informational hearings in the 42nd Assembly District designed to address the concerns of affordable healthcare for farmers. The meetings will be put on by the Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives (WFC) and the Farmers' Health Cooperative of Wisconsin (FHCW). The FHCW was authorized by the legislature to provide insurance coverage for those working within agricultural production by allowing local farmers to join a cooperative in order to purchase insurance coverage at bulk rates, therefore reducing costs to its individual members.

Listed below are the times and dates of the meetings in the district. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact Representative Hines' office via phone at 1-888-534-0042 or email at Rep.Hines@legis.wi.gov. Also, feel free to contact the FHCW toll-free at (800) 539-9370 or visit www.farmershealthcooperative.com

Monday, June 4 Tuesday, June 5

10am, 1:30pm, 8pm 10am, 1:30pm

Scharenberg's White Lake Dino's RestaurantGolf Resort 2900 New Pinery RoadN4785 19th Avenue PortageMontelloContact: J.A. Hines, 608/266-7746.

понедельник, 24 сентября 2012 г.

A.M. Best Downgrades Issuer Credit Ratings of Bremen Farmers Mutual Insurance Company - Wireless News


Wireless News
12-27-2009
A.M. Best Downgrades Issuer Credit Ratings of Bremen Farmers Mutual Insurance Company
Type: News

A.M. Best Co. has downgraded the issuer credit rating (ICR) to 'bbb' from 'bbb+' and affirmed the financial strength rating of B++ (Good) of Bremen Farmers Insurance Company (Bremen, KS). The outlook for both ratings is stable.

The downgrading of the ICR for Bremen Farmers Mutual Insurance Company reflects the decline in surplus from underwriting losses that resulted from increased frequency of wind and hail storms, increased retention levels and a decline in net investment income.
The ratings recognize the company's strong, though weakened, level of risk-adjusted capitalization, conservative investment philosophy and reinsurance program. The ratings also recognize the company's long-standing market presence in Kansas and favorable overall liquidity measures.

These rating factors are partially offset by Bremen Farmers Mutual Insurance Company's elevated ceded reinsurance leverage measure and significant exposure to wind and hail losses. Additionally, the company's limited financial flexibility and current business profile as a single-state property writer expose it to increased competitive market conditions and regulatory and judicial changes.

For Best's Credit Ratings, an overview of the rating process and rating methodologies, please visit www.ambest.com/ratings.

The principal methodologies used in determining these ratings, including any additional methodologies and factors that may have been considered, can be found at www.ambest.com/ratings/ methodology.

A.M. Best Company is a global full-service credit rating organization dedicated to serving the financial and health care service industries, including insurance companies, banks, hospitals and health care system providers.

More Information: www.ambest.com.

((Comments on this story may be sent to newsdesk@closeupmedia.com))

Copyright 2009 Close-Up Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

воскресенье, 23 сентября 2012 г.

A.M. Best Upgrades Farmers Mutual Insurance Company. - Insurance Weekly News

A.M. Best Co. has upgraded the financial strength rating to B++ (Good) from B+ (Good) and issuer credit rating to 'bbb' from 'bbb-'of Farmers Mutual Insurance Company (Farmers) (White Hall, WV). The outlook for both ratings is stable.

The rating upgrade reflects Farmers' conservative underwriting leverage, favorable operating performance and local market expertise providing a variety of personal, commercial and farm owners' insurance products to West Virginia residents. The company's success is derived from its solid core business values and focused business plan, which has led to stabilization within the company as evidenced by its consistently profitable operating results over the most recent five-year period. Continuation of this trend was observed in 2009 as reflected by another solid year of operating results and moderate growth in surplus amid challenging market conditions. The rating upgrade further acknowledges the company's excellent claim service capabilities, technology enhancements and solid agency relationships.

These positive attributes are partially tempered by Farmers' concentration of business in West Virginia that exposes its earnings and surplus to impacts from weather-related events, competitive market conditions and macroeconomic factors. Also, the company maintains an elevated expense position driven by its technology costs and above average commission levels.

However, these factors are partially mitigated by Farmers' favorable loss experience.

For Best's Credit Ratings, an overview of the rating process and rating methodologies, please visit www.ambest.com/ratings.

The principal methodologies used in determining these ratings, including any additional methodologies and factors that may have been considered, can be found at www.ambest.com/ratings/methodology. Founded in 1899, A.M. Best Company is a global full-service credit rating organization dedicated to serving the financial and health care service industries, including insurance companies, banks, hospitals and health care system providers. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

Keywords: Agricultural, Agriculture, Farm Owner, Finance, Financial, Insurance, Investing, Investment, Professional Services, Technology, A.M. Best Company.

суббота, 22 сентября 2012 г.

'Hospitals on wheels' to offer farmers health care - China Daily

Most counties in central and western China will soon have mobilehospitals to ensure basic health care for poverty-stricken ruralresidents.

The central government has equipped counties in the region with1,004 coaches to provide door-to-door health care for farmers.

The National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry ofHealth have invested 230 million yuan (US$27.7 million) in theprogramme.

A source at the commission said an additional 800 coaches bought with treasury bonds will be put into use at the end of this year.

'We aim to equip every county in western and central China with amobile hospital,' Li Shenglin, vice-minister of the commission saidon Saturday in Beijing.

The coaches will mainly be used in common disease diagnosis, smalloperations, health check-ups and health education for the farmers,who live kilometres away from cities and towns.

Under the close supervision of provincial governments, county-level hospitals will use the vehicles to conduct medical check-upsrelated to AIDS and other contagious diseases.

Li said the programme was part of the central government's effortsto develop a sound health care system in rural areas. He said thesystem in rural areas should be improved.

Local officials and residents offered a cautious welcome.

Xiong Guanglin, the mayor of the city of Bazhong in SouthwestChina's Sichuan Province, said investment in the health sectors inwestern rural areas is particularly low, compared with other areas.

'Shocking statistics will have a say in how much investment therural areas needs,' said Xiong.

In his city, more than 90 per cent of women in urban areas givebirth in hospital, while about 90 per cent of babies are born at homein the countryside. While more than 90 per cent of deaths in urbanareas occur in hospital, more than 90 per cent of people pass away athome in rural areas.

Xiong also said that 70 per cent of the nation's population livingin rural areas enjoy just 30 per cent of the nation's resources inthe health and medicare sectors.

'A simple comparison can reveal a great deal,' Xiong said. 'Whenputting an end to hasty investments, the fact that some rural regionsare in dire need of investment should not be overlooked.'

In some poor areas in China, farmers have to pay medical billsthemselves. These poor farmers cannot afford to pay for a medicalcheck-up, so they often do not bother. Farmers become poorer, andtheir health suffers, forming a vicious circle forms.

The government is working hard to set up such a system in ruralareas.

A source with the Ministry of Health said the central governmenthas allocated 10 yuan (US$1.2) annually to every rural resident incentral and western China since last year to help them join a newmedical insurance scheme.

пятница, 21 сентября 2012 г.

PLAN WOULD AID FARMERS SEEKING INSURANCE.(LOCAL) - The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI)

Byline: Associated Press

The value of a farmer's tractor and other equipment wouldn't count as income when applying for health insurance under a program Gov. Jim Doyle is proposing.

At a town hall meeting last week in Prairie du Chien, Doyle said he plans to change how income is calculated for farmers in order to qualify for the BadgerCare Plus health insurance program currently under development.

Under the existing BadgerCare program, the depreciated value of equipment owned by farmers is counted as part of their income when determining eligibility. The new proposal would not count that depreciation income.

While the program would also apply to anyone who is self-employed, farmers are the most likely to be affected by the depreciation issue, said Jason Helgerson, policy director for the state Department of Health and Family Services.

The department estimates that 13,227 adults who currently do not qualify under BadgerCare would with the more liberal income guidelines, Helgerson said.

The original BadgerCare was created for low-income children -- and their parents -- if they don't have an employer-sponsored health insurance plan.

The Department of Health and Family Services is developing the new BadgerCare Plus program, which would merge BadgerCare with other government programs providing health-care coverage for children and families.

четверг, 20 сентября 2012 г.

FARMERS HEALTH COOPERATIVE OFFERS PROMISING NEW HEALTH CARE OPTION FOR FARMERS, AGRIBUSINESS - US Fed News Service, Including US State News

Wisconsin State Rep. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan (41st District), issued the following news release:

By Rep. Joan Ballweg

As health care costs have soared in recent years, farmers and their families have struggled to find affordable health insurance. Without the benefit of employer funded health care, farmers have little bargaining power when shopping for insurance.

Fortunately, farmers and agribusiness will finally have the ability to purchase affordable comprehensive health insurance plans with the formation of a new farmer health cooperative.

Spearheaded by the Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives, the Farmers' Health Cooperative of Wisconsin (FHCW) was created under a 2003 law known as the 'Co-op Care' legislation. FHCW uses on the collective bargaining power of its members to purchase quality affordable health insurance.

The Farmers' Health Cooperative of Wisconsin has contracted with Aetna, a national insurance leader, to provide insurance coverage. Coverage is available to farmers who are between the ages of 18 and 64 and are actively working within agricultural production. 'Actively working' is defined as working a minimum of 30 hours per week on a regular basis, and not working in agricultural production on a temporary (less than six months) or substitute basis.

Unmarried, dependent children of co-op members are covered until they reach age 25 if they are at least 50% dependent upon their parent.

Eligible agribusiness must be a business enterprise providing direct services to production agriculture in Wisconsin or an employee of a business enterprise providing direct services to production agriculture in Wisconsin, subject to approval by the cooperative.

Those interested in obtaining health care coverage through FHCW will need to enroll as a member of the cooperative and pay a capitalization fee. The membership fee is $2 per farmer or per employee per month. The capitalization fee is paid when you enroll in the cooperative. It is held in a reserve account and will be returned to you after three years of enrollment has been completed.

Those eligible to enroll can choose one of six health insurance plans starting April 1, 2007. The plans include the flexibility of choosing a provider either in-network or outside the network. The cooperative will offer individual and family coverage with deductibles ranging from $300 for a single person to $5,000 with a Health Savings Account for a family. The co-op's plan will cover workplace injuries and include prescription drug coverage and emphasize prevention health care. Another benefit of the plans is a 24-hour nurse hotline.

As a cooperative, FHCW is also member-owned and governed. Like other cooperatives, it is a non-profit business that invests future profits back into the cooperatives and its members.

For more information or to enroll in the cooperative, you can contact the Agri-Services Agency at 800-539-9370 or log onto www.farmershealthcooperative.com.

Farmers I've spoken with are starting to get quotes from FHCW and will be taking advantage of this health care option. Because FHCW is a new program, I would like to hear from individuals who join the plan, or have compared rates. Please call my office at 888-534-0041 or write me at Rep.Ballweg@legis.wisconsin.gov with feedback on benefits derived from the plan, as well as any concerns or glitches in the start-up of this promising program.

A.M. Best Revises Outlook to Stable for Farmers Insurance Company of Flemington. - Health & Beauty Close-Up

A.M. Best Co. has revised the outlook to stable from negative and affirmed the financial strength rating of B+ (Good) and issuer credit rating of 'bbb-' of Farmers Insurance Company of Flemington (Farmers) (Flemington, NJ).

The revised outlook for Farmers reflects the reduced exposure that its risk-adjusted capitalization has to equity market volatility going forward. Over the past several years, the company reduced its significant holdings of common stock to comply with the New Jersey legislation passed in 2008 limiting equity investments, which was followed by revision of Farmers' investment strategy and portfolio allocation that emphasizes fixed income investments.

Farmers' ratings recognize its adequate capitalization, generally favorable operating performance and local market expertise, which are offset by the company's unfavorable loss reserve development trends and geographic concentration of risks in New Jersey.

As a property-predominant writer in New Jersey, Farmers' surplus remains exposed to adverse legislative actions, regulatory decisions and severe weather conditions.

For Best's Credit Ratings, an overview of the rating process and rating methodologies: ambest.com/ratings.

среда, 19 сентября 2012 г.

FARMERS INSURANCE IN RUNNING FOR AWARD - The Columbian (Vancouver, WA)

SUSAN FARMER
The Columbian
10-22-1997
Farmers Insurance Group of Companies in Vancouver is among 28 employers to be nominated for the 1997 Work and Family Progress Awards.
Sponsored by the Work/Family Northwest Conference, the awards honor employers with family-friendly work policies.
Five winners, to represent small, medium, large, nonprofit and government employers, will be selected Tuesday at the seventh annual Work/Family Northwest Conference in Seattle.
The conference consists of government and private employers exploring ways for employers to implement family-friendly work policies, such as flexible schedules.
Other companies nominated this year include The Herald newspaper in Everett, Starbucks Coffee Co. in Seattle, Group Health Northwest in Spokane and the Yakima County prosecuting attorney.
For information about the conference, call Larry Macmillan, (360) 586-3023.
Puttin’ on the art
Some 68 Vancouver businesses will be putting on an artsy air, courtesy of 100 local artists, to celebrate Arts Crawl ’97 Thursday through Saturday.
The free event is held yearly to showcase local talent, from potters to sculpturists and watercolorists.
Pick up a map at downtown art galleries and participating businesses, then stroll the local businesses-turned-art-galleries.
The event will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Participating businesses cover a 40-block area of Vancouver, falling mostly between Washington and Broadway streets, from Fifth to 24th streets.
Apartments proposed
Adam Rhodes of West Country Development is proposing a 132-unit apartment complex for six acres on the northwest corner of 172nd Avenue and Mill Plain Boulevard, according to documents submitted to the city of Vancouver. The property is owned by local developer Tim Ralston. Rhodes is to meet with city planning staff Oct. 28 to discuss the project.
Agriculture on the Web
Folks who grow or process food products might want to check out www.agbase.com on the Internet.
The site is dedicated to connecting Pacific Northwesterners involved in agriculture.
Growers, sellers, processors and packers can find free industry info on weather, suppliers, events, associations and success stories. They can also list their own operations on the free directory.
The site, supported by advertisers, is a joint effort of Redmond-based SourcePAGE, an Internet consultant, and Western Resource Analysis, an agriculture consulting firm in Wenatchee.
Word is really out now
Clark County has been noticed by big biz wigs in Washington, D.C.
The area is noted as a high-tech hot spot in the Oct. 3 issue of The Kiplinger Washington Letter, a weekly business newsletter out of Washington, D.C., that circulates to 262,000.
“Vancouver/Clark County in southern Washington state will be hot as Silicon Valley firms head north and U.S. trade with Asia increases,” the newsletter said. “New hires from the area have a good work ethic and willingness to learn.”
Susan Farmer writes about banking, construction, agriculture, telecommunications and consumer news for The Columbian. She can be reached at 699-6030, Ext. 2318, or by e-mail to susan.farmer@columbian.com.

Columbian staff writer


Copyright 1997 The Columbian Publishing Co.

Late News.(Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association added to class-action suit)(Bankruptcy judge OKs DVI loan)(Farmers Insurance Group drops malpractice line)(HealthSouth exec Catherine Fowler pleads guilty) - Modern Healthcare

Blues added to class-action suit

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member plans became the latest defendants in a massive federal class-action lawsuit accusing the nation's largest health insurers of bilking physicians out of millions of dollars. U.S. District Court Judge Federico Moreno in Miami agreed to add to the original case 58 racketeering lawsuits first filed in May by the Connecticut State Medical Society, which alleges that the Chicago-based Blues association and its 41 independent affiliates forced doctors into unfavorable contracts, used computer programs to routinely deny or delay payments and interfered with patient care. A spokesman for the Blues association declined to comment. Since late 1999, Moreno has presided over a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 700,000 physicians against the nation's 10 largest for-profit health plans. Aetna and Cigna Corp. have since settled out of court for $470 million and $540 million, respectively. The remaining defendants have asked a federal appeals court in Atlanta to overturn Moreno's decision giving the case class-action status.

Bankruptcy judge OKs DVI loan

DVI, Jamison, Pa., said it won interim bankruptcy court approval of a debtor-in-possession loan that will allow it to continue financing healthcare providers until its portfolio is sold. U.S. Bankruptcy Chief Judge Mary Walrath in Wilmington, Del., scheduled an Oct. 3 hearing to grant final approval of the $148 million loan from Goldman Sachs Credit Partners and Ableco Finance. It replaces an existing loan of about $149 million from a bank syndicate, which agreed to accept $100 million of proceeds from the new financing package and concede their claim on the remainder. Some $20 million of the new financing will be made available to fund loans to DVI's healthcare provider clients.

Insurer drops malpractice line

Farmers Insurance Group, Los Angeles, said it would scrap its medical malpractice insurance line, which represents less than 1% of its business, to focus on providing auto insurance and homeowner coverage. The move comes after losses of more than $100 million last year on medical liability premiums. Farmers has stopped writing new medical malpractice policies and on Jan. 1 will begin the process of ending its existing policies, currently in 18 states. Farmers' 1,300 medical malpractice insurance policies account for $94.5 million of the group's $13.5 billion insurance business.

HealthSouth exec pleads guilty

AP Corrects Farmers Insurance Story - AP Online


AP Online
04-20-1999
AP Corrects Farmers Insurance Story

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- In an April 8 story about farmers dropping their health insurance, The Associated Press erroneously reported that self-employed people may deduct 60 percent of their medical costs on their 1999 and 2000 taxes.

Under federal legislation signed in October, the self-employed may deduct 60 percent of their health insurance premiums for 1999 through 2001.

The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Copyright 1999 The Associated Press All Rights Reserved

FARMERS INSURANCE DONATES $10,000 TO THE IDAHO NATIONAL GUARD YOUTH CHALLENGE PROGRAM. - States News Service

BOISE, Idaho -- The following information was released by the office of the Governor of Idaho:

The Idaho National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program received a major boost in its development efforts today as Farmer Insurance Group presented a check for $10,000 to Governor C.L. 'Butch' Otter and Major General Gary Sayler, adjutant general of the Idaho National Guard, in a special reception at the Capitol.

'We are pleased to support the Idaho National Guard Youth ChalleNGe national program because it mentors at-risk youth and gives them a chance to become productive citizens and make a good life for themselves and their families,' said Kris Pacey, Farmers Insurance Idaho State Executive Director. 'We thank Governor Otter, and Generals Sayler and Turner for their roles in making the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program a reality in Idaho.'

'Farmers Insurance has my sincere appreciation for stepping up to help support this program and the great opportunity it will give Idaho's at-risk youth. The residents of Pierce and Clearwater County are excited about the prospect of hosting a program devoted to helping get these young folks back on the right track in life,' Governor Otter said. 'I would encourage other companies to join Farmers and other generous donors in helping the Idaho National Guard put this important and innovative program in place.'

Youth ChalleNGe officials said the funds will be used to help get the program started in Pierce -- a small and remote community in northern Idaho -- especially for the repair and renovation of the program's residential training facility. When completed, the facility will serve over 200 high school dropouts from all parts of Idaho as they progress through the Youth ChalleNGe's nationally proven program.

The Idaho National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program's mission is, 'To intervene in and reclaim the lives of 16- to 18-year-old high school dropouts, producing program graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline necessary to succeed as productive citizens.' It is a preventive rather than a remedial program for at-risk youth, focusing on participants who are unemployed, drug-free high school dropouts who are not in trouble with the law.

FARMERS INSURANCE DONATES $10,000 TO IDAHO NATIONAL GUARD YOUTH CHALLENGE PROGRAM - US Fed News Service, Including US State News

BOISE, Idaho, March 9 -- Gov. C.

L. 'Butch' Otter, R-Idaho, has issued the following news release:

The Idaho National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program received a major boost in its development efforts today as Farmer Insurance Group presented a check for $10,000 to Gov.r C.

L. 'Butch' Otter and Major General Gary Sayler, adjutant general of the Idaho National Guard, in a special reception at the Capitol.

'We are pleased to support the Idaho National Guard Youth ChalleNGe national program because it mentors at-risk youth and gives them a chance to become productive citizens and make a good life for themselves and their families,' said Kris Pacey, Farmers Insurance Idaho State Executive Director. 'We thank Governor Otter, and Generals Sayler and Turner for their roles in making the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program a reality in Idaho.'

'Farmers Insurance has my sincere appreciation for stepping up to help support this program and the great opportunity it will give Idaho's at-risk youth. The residents of Pierce and Clearwater County are excited about the prospect of hosting a program devoted to helping get these young folks back on the right track in life,' Governor Otter said. 'I would encourage other companies to join Farmers and other generous donors in helping the Idaho National Guard put this important and innovative program in place.'

Youth ChalleNGe officials said the funds will be used to help get the program started in Pierce - a small and remote community in northern Idaho - especially for the repair and renovation of the program's residential training facility. When completed, the facility will serve over 200 high school dropouts from all parts of Idaho as they progress through the Youth ChalleNGe's nationally proven program.

The Idaho National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program's mission is, 'To intervene in and reclaim the lives of 16- to 18-year-old high school dropouts, producing program graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline necessary to succeed as productive citizens.' It is a preventive rather than a remedial program for at-risk youth, focusing on participants who are unemployed, drug-free high school dropouts who are not in trouble with the law.

The program includes a 22-week residential phase where cadets learn the program's eight core components of Responsible Citizenship, Academic Excellence, Life-Coping Skills, Service to Community, Health and Hygiene, Job Skills Training, Leadership/Followership, and Physical Fitness while earning a State-approved Educational Credential.

The residential phase is followed by a year-long mentoring relationship with a specially trained member from each youth's community, who works to reinforce the lessons learned in the residential phase and assists the student in pursuing further education, employment or civic service. Learn more at http://www.youthchallengeidaho.org or contact Mr. Brent Ferro at (208) 272-8392 / email youthchallengeidaho@gmail.com. For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at htsyndication@hindustantimes.com

BABIES HAVE A NEW HERO IN FARMERS INSURANCE. - States News Service

WHITE PLAINS, NY -- The following information was released by The March of Dimes:

With local telethons, carwashes, golf outings, pancake breakfasts pie-throwing contests and a television partnership, Farmers Insurance Group and its agents nationwide led their communities to raise more than $2.65 million in a one-day fundraiser, Be a Hero for Babies Day, on July 22 to support March of Dimes programs to give every baby a healthy start in life.

March of Dimes officials said the funds raised will support urgently needed research and education to help stem the growing crisis of premature birth, the leading cause of newborn death in the U.S.

'This is the fifth consecutive year that Farmers agents have led this extraordinary one-day fundraiser and demonstrates how much they care about babies,' said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. 'The funds raised, will help support March of Dimes research, education, community services and advocacy efforts on behalf of babies. March of Dimes wants to thank everyone who participated in Be a Hero for Babies Day and made it a great success for families.'

'I cannot say enough about the dedication and hard work of our Farmers employees, agents and district managers from across the country,' said Bob Woudstra, CEO of Farmers Group, Inc. and a member of March of Dimes national Board of Trustees. 'On behalf of everyone in the Farmers family, thank you for sharing in my dedication to help the more than half million babies born too soon, and for giving back to the communities in which we live and work.'

As the nation's third-largest personal property and casualty insurance group, Farmers' is committed to improving the communities where their customers, agents and employees live and work. Farmers' commitment to the March of Dimes spans more than two decades and includes the time and talents of 40,000 employees, agents and district managers.

Farmers insurance chief auto actuary dies in car accident.(Briefing)(death of John Green)(Obituary) - Best's Review

John Green, Farmers Insurance Group's regional vice president of automobile product management and chief auto actuary, died on Feb. 1, of injuries sustained in an auto accident, the company said.

Green, 44, joined Farmers as an actuarial student in June 1992 after graduating from California State Polytechnic University, where he obtained a master's degree in mathematics in 1990. Prior to that, he earned a bachelor's degree from the university in 1985.

Dave Gruhlke Agency Farmers Insurance Group - The Beacon News - Aurora (IL)

AURORA -- Farmers Insurance Group, Dave Gruhlke Agency, is available to help with all insurance needs.Located on the West Side of Aurora, Dave Gruhlke serves all of the Fox Valley area.Gruhlke believes that most people are looking for someone to help them make sure that their insurance needs are met. He always tries to educate his prospects and customers as to the types of coverage they should have.

'I'm amazed at the number of people who say they are happy with their coverage and their insurance company. Then I review their policies and find out that they don't have enough insurance. They could be financially ruined if disaster struck,' Gruhlke said.

Customers are not forgotten after a sale is completed.

'At least annually I will sit down with each of my customers to review their current circumstances and make sure that they are completely covered,' Gruhlke adds. 'This is what we call a Farmers Friendly Review.

'Situations occur throughout the year that people don't realize may change their insurance needs. Customers are always welcome to call me at any time, but insurance is often the last thing that people think about.

'I want to be proactive and make sure my customers are prepared so that any disaster can be minimized as much as possible.'

Farmers Insurance Group, Dave Gruhlke Agency, offers a wide line of insurance and financial products. He can help with auto, home, life, annuities, business, watercraft, health and disability.

As a registered representative, he can also offer IRAs, mutual funds and college funding.

Contact Gruhlke to set up an appointment to discuss your insurance and financial needs. He is available by phone Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Call (630) 896-6603, or e-mail at davegruhlkeagency@ameritech.net.

Texas Judge Upholds $32 Million Award against Farmers Insurance Group. - Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

By Terrence Stutz, The Dallas Morning News Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Oct. 31--AUSTIN, Texas--A state judge Tuesday affirmed a $32 million jury verdict against Farmers Insurance Group in a landmark toxic mold case that grabbed national attention and stunned the insurance industry in Texas.

State District Judge John Dietz left intact the massive judgment handed down in June by a Travis County jury that found Farmers guilty of fraud and bad faith in the handling of a water and mold claim on a Central Texas home.

'This is a victory for homeowners,' said Melinda Ballard, the Dripping Springs homeowner whose residence was ravaged by mold and who accused Farmers of allowing it to happen because of its refusal to properly fix a water leak.

'This was a verdict that penalized a major insurance company for fraudulently and knowingly deceiving their customers,' she said.

'We are disappointed, and we will appeal,' said Bill Miller, a spokesman for Farmers, the second-largest property insurer in Texas.

The judgment was awarded by a jury this year after a trial that centered on the company's handling of the water-damage claim that was filed by Ms. Ballard and her husband, Ron Allison, on their 22-room Southern mansion in the Hill Country.

The family said they were forced to leave the house in 1999 after toxic black mold -- caused by the water leak -- overran the residence and made it uninhabitable. Mr. Allison and the couple's young son, Reese, were suffering a variety of health problems when they moved out.

After the jury verdict, Judge Dietz ordered mediation in the case. But the two sides could not reach an agreement, leaving the judge to issue a final judgment.

'When Farmers sat up there during the trial and admitted all that it had done, it was easy to prove our case against them,' said Ms. Ballard, who has since become an advocate for homeowners battling their insurance companies over mold claims. Ms. Ballard also is expected to run for a Texas House seat from Central Texas next year.

She said she does not expect to receive any of the judgment from Farmers in the near future, as the case likely will be tied up for years in appeals.

Farmers argued during the trial that Ms. Ballard and her husband were at fault for failing to promptly repair the water leaks.

The house is still closed up, with a sign in front warning of the 'biohazard' inside. It will eventually have to be torn down, and one estimate indicated that would cost $1.3 million.

In the meantime, the structure is serving as a scientific site under study by Texas Tech University environmental experts.

'Hopefully, this will help them come up with solutions for this problem so other homeowners will not have to go through what we went through,' Ms. Ballard said.

The case sent shock waves through the insurance industry, which has been dealing with a surge in mold claims in Texas over the past two years. Industry officials have warned of higher premiums for homeowners insurance in the future, and the three largest companies -- State Farm, Allstate and Farmers -- have sharply restricted sales of new policies.

State Insurance Commissioner Jose Montemayor is considering limits on mold coverage in standard homeowners policies sold in Texas. He is expected to render a decision on the issue in early November.

To see more of The Dallas Morning News, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.dallasnews.com/

Babies Have a New Hero in Farmers Insurance. - Health & Medicine Week

With local telethons, carwashes, golf outings, pancake breakfasts, pie-throwing contests and a television partnership, Farmers Insurance Group and its agents nationwide led their communities to raise more than $2.65 million in a one-day fundraiser, Be a Hero for Babies Day, on July 22 to support March of Dimes programs to give every baby a healthy start in life (see also Premature Birth).

March of Dimes officials said the funds raised will support urgently needed research and education to help stem the growing crisis of premature birth, the leading cause of newborn death in the U.S.

'This is the fifth consecutive year that Farmers agents have led this extraordinary one-day fundraiser and demonstrates how much they care about babies,' said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. 'The funds raised will help support March of Dimes research, education, community services and advocacy efforts on behalf of babies. March of Dimes wants to thank everyone who participated in Be a Hero for Babies Day and made it a great success for families.'

'I cannot say enough about the dedication and hard work of our Farmers employees, agents and district managers from across the country,' said Bob Woudstra, CEO of Farmers Group, Inc. and a member of March of Dimes national Board of Trustees. 'On behalf of everyone in the Farmers family, thank you for sharing in my dedication to help the more than half million babies born too soon, and for giving back to the communities in which we live and work.'

As the nation's third-largest personal property and casualty insurance group, Farmers is committed to improving the communities where their customers, agents and employees live and work. Farmers' commitment to the March of Dimes spans more than two decades and includes the time and talents of 40,000 employees, agents and district managers.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies[R], the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org.

Keywords: March of Dimes, Premature Birth.

вторник, 18 сентября 2012 г.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Names New Board of Directors Co-Chairs: Bill Martin, Senior Vice President of Farmers Insurance, and Joan Claybrook, President Emeritus of Public Citizen. - Biotech Week

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) announced that Bill Martin, a Senior Vice President of Farmers Insurance, and Joan Claybrook, President Emeritus of Public Citizen, were elected co-chairs of its Board of Directors. The election took place at their board meeting in Washington, D.C. on December 3, 2009 (see also Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety).

Mr. Martin and Ms. Claybrook will serve as insurance co-chair and consumer co-chair respectively through 2010.

Advocates was formed in 1989 by leading insurance and consumer, safety and medical organizations, to coalesce in support of adopting effective laws and regulations in the U.S. Congress, Executive branch agencies and state legislatures. The Board of Directors is comprised of a balance of insurers and consumer groups, with funding provided by insurance companies. Each member of the Board has an equal vote in the adoption and implementation of an annual program addressing such policy issues as teen driving, distracted driving, impaired driving, seat belt use, motor carrier safety, and motor vehicle safety standards.

'Advocates is continually uncovering legislative areas where consumer safety advocates and private sector insurer interests agree,' insurance co-chair Martin said. 'It is great to have a vehicle to communicate mutual support and push government action to support the consensus.'

Consumer representation on the Advocates board includes the American College of Emergency Physicians, American Public Health Association, Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Federation of America, Emergency Nurses Association, Kids And Cars, Trauma Foundation, and Whirlwind Wheelchair International. Additional consumer representatives are Joan Claybrook, who was Advocates' first consumer co-chair in 1989, and R. David Pittle, past senior vice president for technical policy at Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports.

'Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is an extraordinary alliance of consumer advocates and insurance leaders that has helped to transform our nation's traffic safety laws and vehicle safety regulations over the past 20 years,' said consumer co-chair Joan Claybrook. 'It was a great honor to launch Advocates as its first consumer co-chair in 1989, and to now return to this leadership role to help steer this great organization into its third decade of saving lives on our highways.'

Insurance industry representatives on the board are Allstate Insurance Company, California State Automobile Association, Farmers Insurance Group, Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, Liberty Mutual Group, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, Nationwide Insurance, State Farm Insurance Companies, Unitrin Specialty, and USAA.

'The property and casualty insurance industry has in Advocates a unique safety lobby whose countless legislative and regulatory victories have prevented enormous economic losses and an untold number of tragedies,' said insurance co-chair Bill Martin, who leads Farmer Insurance's Personal Insurance Business Unit. 'The more the insurance industry is at the same table with the nation's leading consumer and safety groups, the more our policyholders will benefit from this strong working relationship.'

A new addition to Advocates' Board of Directors is Brian Conklin, Vice President for Federal Government Relations at USAA, who formerly served on the senior staff of President George W. Bush, including two years as Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs.

Keywords: Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Automobiles, Federal Government, Government, Insurance, Politics, Public Health, Traffic Safety, Transportation.

Late News; Silverstein recovers proceeds, loses appeal.(Silverstein Properties Inc.)(Farmers Insurance Group to quit medical malpractice coverage)(Travelers Property Casualty Corp. to buy rights to marine lines) - Business Insurance

GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corp. has agreed to release about $20 million in business interruption insurance proceeds to World Trade Center leaseholder Silverstein Properties Inc. as the parties seek agreement on a redevelopment plan for the WTC site. After consulting with the judge hearing the dispute over the redevelopment, the parties agreed that GMAC, which administers the mortgage on the property, would continue the business interruption payments and pay October rent. The agreement gives the parties until Oct. 22 to work out a redevelopment agreement. Meanwhile, one day after that agreement with GMAC, Silverstein encountered a setback in its insurance coverage litigation when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling that a jury should decide whether the WTC attack was one occurrence or two.

More states consider Canadian drug programs

In what appears to be a growing trend, two state governors last week separately announced plans to study the possibility of importing drugs from Canada for their state workers and retirees. Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa and Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota both instructed their state officials to investigate the financial and legal implications of a drug importation program. The announcements are similar to an announcement made earlier this month by Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois.

Farmers to quit medical malpractice coverage

Farmers Insurance Group, the country's fifth-largest medical malpractice underwriter, is exiting the market. The insurer said that in an effort to focus on its core business lines it will no longer write new medical malpractice coverage and will begin the process of nonrenewing existing business beginning Jan. 1, 2004. According to A.M. Best Co., Farmers represented 4.7% of the total U.S. medical liability market in 2002.

Travelers to buy rights to marine lines

Travelers Property Casualty Corp. is acquiring renewal rights to most of Atlantic Mutual Cos.' commercial lines inland marine and ocean cargo business. The deal gives Travelers the opportunity to acquire business worth up to $110 million in net written premiums and the related unearned premium reserve on Atlantic Mutual's balance sheet. Terms of the deal were not released.

Coverage for satellite loss led by Munich Re

Munich Reinsurance Co. is the lead underwriter for the $141 million communications space satellite that owner Loral Space & Communications Ltd. has declared a total loss, sources say. Marsh Inc. placed the risk, but Loral switched to Willis Group Holdings Ltd. before the loss and has asked Willis to handle the claim, according to sources. The primary power plant for the Telstar 4 satellite, manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp., short-circuited Sept. 19, and Lockheed and Loral were unable to correct the problem.

Claims commission sued by Holocaust survivors

Two Holocaust survivors are suing the international commission established to handle Nazi-era insurance claims, alleging that the entity's efforts to resolve those claims violates California's unfair trade practices law. The plaintiffs allege that the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims helped Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A. reduce its exposure to claims from over $1 billion to only $100 million and that it has failed to publish on Web sites the names of all policyholders during that era, among other things. Generali dismissed the allegations as 'baseless.''

RICO suit against health plans to proceed

A suit filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act against Capital Blue Cross and its health maintenance organization, Keystone Health Plan Central, can go forward as a result of a ruling by a federal court judge in Pennsylvania. The judge ruled that a RICO claim by doctors against an HMO is not barred by either the McCarran-Ferguson Act or the U.S. Supreme Court's 2000 decision in Pegram vs. Herdrich. The suit, filed Oct. 5, 2001, alleges, among other things, that the managed care provider 'shaves'' capitation payments by purposefully underreporting the number of patients enrolled in physicians' practice groups.

New Jersey orders cleanup of 18 watershed sites

As part of a large-scale effort to collect damages for the loss of use of polluted natural resources, New Jersey environmental regulators have identified and directed dozens of potentially responsible parties to begin assessing and restoring 18 contaminated sites within the Passaic River watershed. The river watershed recovery effort by the Department of Environmental Protection is part of the state's broader effort to pursue recoveries for more than 4,000 polluted natural resource sites statewide.

Court orders Honeywell to pay retiree benefits

A federal court has ordered Honeywell International Inc. to reinstate full health insurance benefits for 800 retirees that worked at an automotive parts manufacturer it formerly owned by Oct. 1, 2003. Bendix Corp., a brake manufacturer, was acquired in 1983 by Allied-Signal Inc., which later merged with Honeywell. The litigation against Honeywell began in August 2002, after Motor Components L.L.C., the current owner of the auto parts plant formerly owned by Bendix, cut retirees' health and life insurance coverage. The court said that Honeywell had to reinstate the benefits under an agreement between Bendix and Allied Signal at the time of the Bendix acquisition. The retirees were represented by the United Auto Workers union.

Employers get time to adopt COBRA rules

Employers will have six months to comply with the Department of Labor's proposed federal COBRA notification rules once they become final some time early next year, the department's Employee Benefits Security Administration said. The notification requirements, which were proposed in May, would, among other things, set minimum standards for the timing and content of the notices required under health care continuation provisions of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.

Briefly noted

Dallas-based Summit Global Partners Inc., the 26th largest broker of U.S. business, has named Joseph R. Wiedemann as chairman. Mr. Wiedemann, a longtime insurance executive who retired from American International Group Inc. in 1996, replaces Gary R. Griffith. Mr. Griffith resigned as SGP's chairman and chief executive officer but will remain a director. Management of the brokerage will be led by a new office of the president, headed by Jeff Pan, who has been an executive at SPG since 1997....A.M. Best Co. downgraded its financial strength ratings of the Royal & SunAlliance USA Insurance Pool and the Royal Surplus Lines Insurance Co. to B+ from A-....John T. Sinnott, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Marsh Inc., has been named the 2003 Insurance Leader of the Year by the School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science at St. John's University. Mr. Sinnott will be given the award at a Jan. 22, 2004, dinner in New York.

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Farmers Insurance Joins March of Dimes at National March for. - Health & Medicine Week

Farmers Insurance Group of Companies=AE, the second largest fundraiser for the March of Dimes nationwide, and a proud sponsor of the March of Dimes' March for Babies, will walk in support of healthy California babies on April 24, 2010 in Los Angeles (see also Farmers Insurance).

Farmers Insurance agents, district managers and employees will join family and friends in Marching for Babies at Exposition Park beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 24.

In addition to gathering donations for the three-mile walk, Farmers will also present a check to the March of Dimes for $1 million dollars in honor of Farmers agents, district managers and employees year-long fundraising efforts in California.

WHAT: March for Babies is the March of Dimes premier

Keywords: Farmers Insurance.

Farmers Insurance to Stop Selling Medical Malpractice Coverage. - Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT)

Byline: Jeff DeMoss

Sep. 25--A Wednesday decision by Farmers Insurance Group to stop selling medical malpractice insurance won't directly impact the Top of Utah, but local health professionals say it's another indicator of a local and national health care crisis.

Farmers spokeswoman Mary Flynn said the decision was spurred by the company's medical malpractice division loss of more than $100 million in 2002, its biggest yearly loss on record.

'Medical malpractice represents less than 1 percent of our business, but has become an increasing drain on the company for three years in a row now,' she said. 'Now we can focus more on our main business.'

The company primarily writes home, auto and life insurance.

Farmers, which operates in 18 states, has two malpractice policyholders in Utah -- Allen Memorial Hospital in Moab and Gunnison Valley Hospital in Gunnison, both of which will have to find a new provider at the beginning of next year amid an ever-narrowing list of choices.

'It's getting tougher to find, and more expensive to keep,' Martin J. Oslowski, president and chief executive of the Utah Medical Insurance Association said. 'The trend in Utah is exactly the same as that of the whole country -- toward a disaster.'

Malpractice insurers have seen their profits devoured as claims have soared in recent years, followed by skyrocketing premium costs for doctors. UMIA, which insures more than two-thirds of Utah's doctors, last year hiked its premium rates 35 percent to offset mounting underwriting losses.

Intermountain Health Care, which operates 20 hospitals and three of six in the Top of Utah, indemnifies its physicians using its own resources, while the University of Utah Hospital has a malpractice trust fund in place.

Calls to Davis Hospital and Medical Center and Ogden Regional Medical Center were not immediately returned Wednesday.

A group of about 200 Utah doctors and medical students converged on the Capitol earlier this year with the message that the state needs 'tort' reform laws -- rules that limit the amount the plaintiff in a malpractice suit can receive in damages.

California recently implemented tort reform laws, and its situation has stabilized considerably relative to the rest of the nation, Oslowski said.

Farmers isn't the first to abandon medical malpractice insurance.

St. Paul Cos., the nation's second-largest provider, gave it up in 2001.

Farmers is working with state regulators in determining how it will phase out its existing Utah malpractice policies.

To see more of the Standard-Examiner, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.standard.net

(c) 2003, Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

Celent Honors Pegasystems' Client, Farmers Insurance Group as Model Insurer of the Year. - Health & Beauty Close-Up

Pegasystems, a supplier of business process management (BPM) solutions, said that its client, Farmers Insurance Group, has been recognized as the 2011 Model Insurer of the Year by Celent, a research and advisory firm.

According to a release, Celent's annual award is given to organizations that most highly exemplify IT best practices and measurable business results.

In a new report, 'Celent Model Insurer 2011: Case Studies of Effective Technology Use in Insurance,' Celent recognized Farmers Insurance for leveraging Pega's Build for Change technology to revamp its customer service initiatives and First Notice of Loss (FNOL) application, known as HERO. The award, which recognizes excellence in technology best practices at insurers, marks the second time Farmers has been recognized for projects in which Pega's technology has played a key role (Farmers Small Commercial won a similar award in 2008).

The HERO application, which has driven more efficient claims handling times, higher customer satisfaction and shorter training times for Farmers employees, presents context-aware information to guide customers in filing auto claims. HERO, bolstered by Pega technology, triggers the right questions, gathers the right answers and integrates into the claim system itself so that all information becomes part of the case file.

Celent's recognition marks the third time Farmers has been commemorated this past year for its use of Pega technology. It recently won the Gold Award for North America as part of the annual Global Awards for Excellence in Business Process Management (BPM) and Workflow. It also won first place for enterprise systems in the INNovators Awards, a designation by trade magazine Insurance Networking News (INN) intended to advance the spread of business technology acumen in the insurance industry.

Farmers Insurance Group of Companies is one of the nation's largest insurers of both personal lines passenger automobile and homeowners insurance, and also provides a range of other insurance and financial services products. Farmers Insurance serves more than 10 million households with more than 20 million individual policies across all 50 states through the efforts of over 50,000 exclusive and independent agents and nearly 24,000 employees.