Farmer Focus: Injury highlights cost of US health insurance

It has been a rough week on the ranch for me.

We had been rolling along fairly smoothly. Fall (autumn) calving had started, we had started weaning spring calves and had plenty of feed stored for winter.

However, I have had a really painful shoulder for more than a year now. I have tried to tell myself to stop being a baby, take a few painkillers, and get back to work. It just wasn’t working. 

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Last week I finally went to see a doctor and was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff, torn labrum, and severe bursitis in my right shoulder, so surgery it is. 

Barack Obama seemed to have a disdain for the self-employed middle class and that legacy lives on in his terrible healthcare policy. 

Like many self-employed agriculturalists, I am stuck in the middle. I’m too poor to pay cash for health treatments, but I’m also too well-off to qualify for welfare.

My health insurance policy means that I have to spend $8,000 (£6,100) before they help, and complete all my physical therapy before 1 January 2021 or the $8,000 limit starts all over again. 

Labour is a huge problem for us. Margins are either too thin or simply non-existent to hire quality help, and it leaves us stretched out and without the manpower to absorb this sort of disruption. 

This is my shoulder, but the rest of my family and our business are going to feel it too. 

My timing simply stinks. If I could have done this right after all the cattle went to grass, we would have been in better shape. 

However, we are getting ready to move cattle all over with our semi (truck and trailer) and I am still the only licensed driver on the ranch.

Weighing fall calves, driving feed trucks, working cattle at the crush, breeding cows in December – this list will struggle to get done now.

I am sure we will figure it out, but the rest of the family is going to be tired and I am going to be sore and grouchy.

Daniel Mushrush is a Farmer Focus writer from Kansas. Read his biography.