Access to physical and mental health care is directly connected to farm viability and quality of life. Health care costs and the cost of living have far outpaced gains in farm-based income (and other forms of income) in Vermont. This affects farmers, farmworkers, and consumers, with ramifications from food access to farm operations. Farm families and farmworkers have difficulties accessing health insurance and health care due to the high cost of insurance (including deductibles, copays, and policy costs), lack of (or inadequate) insurance coverage, and limited access to rural providers. Lack of access to affordable health care can impact farm productivity, hiring of farmworkers, farm risk-management strategies, farm transition, land access, and the need for off-farm income. In a national study, a majority of farmers reported that they couldn’t withstand a major health crisis without going into debt or selling off their farm assets.
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