STEP Foundation, Kochs establish Nemaha County Catastrophic Medical Fund

Jim and Patricia Koch present STEP Executive Director Tory Jost with a check to establish the Nemaha County Catastrophic Medical Fund.

Submitted by Tory Jost

Health Insurance premiums are on the rise, which is causing families and individuals to purchase high-deductible insurance plans. Therefore, when individuals are faced with a catastrophic illness or accidents they pay more out-of-pocket expenses. Unpaid medical bills are becoming the leading cause for financial hardships in the U.S., and causes strain to our neighbors and citizens in Nemaha County.

The Nemaha County STEP Foundation is excited to partner with Jim and Patricia Koch by establishing the Nemaha County Catastrophic Medical Fund to assist Nemaha County residents who are not only dealing with the physical health demands of a catastrophic illness, but also dealing with the financial stress of the medical bills that accumulate due to those illnesses.

The Nemaha County STEP Foundation is a 501(c)(3), thus all donations to this fund are tax deductible. As with every 501(c)(3), funds cannot be distributed to individuals. Instead, through the community foundation, STEP can distribute money directly to hospitals, clinics, laboratories or diagnostic clinics, and for transportation (such as ambulance service).

If the payee/vendor provides services or labor and is not a corporation, the payee must provide the STEP Foundation with a W-9 form. An annual amount of $2,000 can be awarded to each recipient. This is an annual amount, just like deductibles are annual; therefore recipients are eligible to reapply for consecutive years. No personal financial statement required.

Go to the STEP website www.nemahastep.org to apply. There are two simple forms to fill out: Authorization Form, which has a physician verify that there is a catastrophic illness; and Application, which basically outlines how the catastrophic illness has created a financial hardship and medical statements of bills needing to be paid.

Once the forms are completed, simply send them by mail or email to the STEP foundation. Once the application is received, an advisory committee will review the application and make recommendations to the STEP board for final approval. After approval, STEP will distribute payments as directed by the advisory committee.

The STEP Foundation will accept applications for financial assistance for the following purposes: medical supplies, medical bills, insurance premiums, nutrition, caregiving and transportation. Services and items not covered by this fund include, but are not limited to, legal fees, payments to individuals, credit card debt and collection agencies.

The Kochs had a passion to assist others and recognized an opportunity to establish this fund in Nemaha County. They highly encourage donating to the fund so it may grow and assist others. Donations may be made to this fund by either visiting the STEP website under “Opportunities to Give” or contacting the Executive Director Tory Jost.

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