Health Care and Health Insurance Access for Farm Families in the United States during COVID-19: Essential Workers without Essential Resources?

Florence Becot, Shoshanah Inwood, Casper Bendixsen, Carrie Henning-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers and farm workers have been deemed essential workers across the world. Yet, despite working in one of the most dangerous occupations, and despite being especially vulnerable to the virus (due to existing health risk factors and risk of infection stemming from difficulties adopting control measures), many farmers and farm workers in the United States have long lacked essential resources to ensure they can meet their health needs: affordable and accessible health insurance and health care. In this commentary, we draw on our own research focused on farm families and collective experiences to discuss three main challenges farm families have faced meeting their health needs: reliance on off-farm work for health insurance coverage, the need to forecast income when purchasing a plan on the health insurance marketplace, and barriers to health care in rural areas. As we discuss these challenges, we highlight the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic is likely exacerbating these pressures. Recognizing that major crises in the past have led to major shifts in economic, social, and political systems, the disruptions brought on by COVID-19 could be leveraged to work toward increasing access to affordable and adequate health insurance and health care. As such, we conclude our commentary by outlining policy reforms and research efforts that are needed to ensure that those working in the farm sector have access to essential resources to preserve their health and safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-377
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of agromedicine
Issue number4
Early online dateSep 12 2020
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the United States Department of Agriculture under Grant [2015-2014-05623], the National Farm Medicine Center (NFMC), and the Marshfield Clinic.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • COVID-19
  • farm families
  • health care
  • health insurance

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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