Business briefs – November 3

Farmers to get assistance

INDIANAPOLIS — U.S. Department of Agriculture Indiana Farm Service Agency acting state executive director Nancy J. Best announced that approximately 95,000 Indiana farms enrolled in safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill will receive financial assistance for the 2016 crop year. The programs, known as Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage, are designed to protect against unexpected drops in crop prices or revenues due to market downturns.

“These safety-net programs provide help when price and revenue fall below normal,” Best said. “Payments to barley, corn, oats, grain sorghum, soybeans and wheat producers are helping provide reassurance to our Indiana farm families who are standing strong against low commodity prices compounded by unfavorable growing conditions.”

Indiana producers have experienced a significant drop in prices or revenues below the benchmark established by the ARC or PLC programs and thus, will receive payments totaling more than $287.5 million. Payments related to corn crops made up much of those payments. There were also payments for barley, oats, grain sorghum, soybeans and wheat crops.

“Payments by county for an eligible commodity can vary because average county yields will differ,” Best said.

Statewide, 90,110 farms participated in ARC-County and 4,510 farms participated in PLC. More details on the price and yield information used to calculate the financing assistance from the safety-net programs is available at fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc and fsa.usda.gov/in.

Open enrollment continues

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Medicare Open Enrollment Period, the annual window for changes to Medicare health and prescription drug coverage, began Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7. During this time frame (also known as the annual election period), currently-enrolled Medicare beneficiaries looking to switch from their current plan to a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) or prescription drug plan (Part D) need to make changes in order for new policies to go into effect Jan. 1, 2018.

A new online Medicare consumer information guide published by TZ Health Media helps explain the differences between different Medicare enrollment deadlines, and provides state-specific resources for Medicare beneficiaries to find additional information.

During the Open Enrollment Period, Medicare-eligible individuals can:

Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan

Leave a Medicare Advantage plan and switch to Original Medicare

Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another

Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan

Switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another

Drop Medicare prescription drug coverage completely.

Industry experts predict that this year’s enrollment period will be hectic for Medicare shoppers and insurance agencies alike.

“This medicare enrollment season is expected to be the busiest one in years,” says Ryan Shevin, director of communications for TZ Health Media, a publisher that covers the healthcare industry. “More and more consumers are comparison shopping to get better rates.”

For information on Medicare Advantage plans, visit MedicareAdvantage.com. For information on Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans, visit MedicareSupplement.com.