Developing a new health care program for Kansas farmer-owners
December 02, 2023

Interview by Eric Jenks, Special to DFA Insurance/Agri-Services Agency

At DFA Insurance, we are passionate about serving our farmer-owners. Our team of experts develop new solutions, processes and programs to enhance insurance offerings and help your farm minimize risk, improve safety culture and offer competitive benefits. The DFA Insurance team, provided by Agri-Services Agency developed and launched AgriCare, new health program in Kansas. Paul Kulpa, Senior Director of insurance services talked with Morning AgClips about his career in insurance, the current health care market and new solutions from the Agri-Services Agency team.

Paul Kulpa is based out of Syracuse, N.Y., and began working for Agri-Services Agency (ASA) over 10 years ago. “I oversee the insurance agency operations” said Kulpa. “That includes the internal health insurance program that we administer. We are currently developing a new association health plan, and we also work with major carriers all across the country of course, so that we can get the best coverage possible for our farmer-owners and agri-businesses.” Kulpa received a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management from SUNY Institute of Technology, as well as a masters in science healthcare administration from the same institution.

Kulpa is originally from the Syracuse, N.Y., area, but moved to Tennessee for a decade for work. “I wasn’t actively looking for a job before I found ASA, but we wanted to come back and be closer to home,” said Kulpa. “I had counterparts that worked at ASA, so I reached out and went from there after they said they wanted to talk to me. I like ASA. I work with great people, and I also love it because we work with dairy farmers every day. They’re real salt of the earth people. I also like that it has allowed me to travel to a number of areas and farms all over the country which is really cool. It can be a little daunting when you travel every other week, but in the end it’s fun. I like working in insurance, and helping explain the complexity of insurance to people that don’t work with it everyday. Helping them see that they need it and us assisting the farms is great.”

Kulpa and the health team launched AgriCare, a new innovative approach to health insurance available through DFA Insurance in Texas and Kansas. “It’s what I used to do at Blue Cross for product development, so it’s nice doing stuff that lends to my old expertise,” said Kulpa. “We’re developing an association health plan that’s specific to agricultural businesses. Currently it will be limited to Texas and Kansas, but there may be an opportunity to expand into other states. The healthcare solution in both states is very unique in that it is specific to dairy farms and other agricultural businesses. We’re unique, since we act as an agent and write insurance for farms and ag business, but we also have our own workers’ compensation program. We’re an agency and carrier in one. We targeted Texas and Kansas because of the significant number of ag businesses in those states.”  

Looking at current and future insurance market conditions, Kulpa sees more stability than were the case during and right after the Covid-19 pandemic. “In 2023 going into 2024, we’re back to the trends that we saw prior to 2020,” said Kulpa. “I say that because in 2020, there was very low utilization of healthcare services, because people weren’t going to the doctor, which was the case in 2021 as well. In 2022, there was a spike in services being used because of pent up need. Going into 2024 however, we’re back to the normal trend, which is a 10-12% increase in premiums. There’s no control over utilization of services in the health insurance market.”

AgriCare, is aimed at addressing the systemic problems of healthcare in the United States. “When you look at the health of the country and issues that it faces, large employers have the ability to meet wellness goals and drive down health costs due to their larger buying power and ability to incentivize wellness programs,” said Kulpa. “In smaller markets however, they don’t have that opportunity to put those programs in place due to cost. Our new association health plan allows small employers to come together and receive a full range of health benefits with no network restrictions while using a reference-based pricing for the payment model. It allows employers to save 15-25% based on the payment methodology that we use for hospitals and outpatient facilities. For example, and these numbers are purely hypothetical, a hospital might charge $3,000 for a procedure, and other carriers will say no we’ll pay $1,500, which is 50% off billed charges. But the actual cost for the procedure for the hospital is only $250. What we’re doing with reference-based pricing is saying we’ll pay you $250 plus 12%, or we’ll pay you what Medicare would pay plus 20%. We’re still paying a premium, but a lot of times these billed charges that are sent to carriers are essentially meaningless. It’s not just a 50% discount on an insanely high billed charge. We feel that reference-based pricing will be the future for the country. Not only does it help employers save money on premiums, but if a patient has a deductible, it’ll help them save money out of pocket since the billed amount is lower as well.” 

This new plan is now available through DFA Insurance. AgriCare can significantly lower your costs, while providing you access to a full range of health benefits with the convenience and performance that helps you hire and retain the best employees. AgriCare is open to farms with one or more employees and sole proprietors. To get the process started, please feel free to call DFA Insurance at 877-358-9523.