Rural Missouri - February 2014 - (Page 5)

Hart to Heart Your co-op is never alone B by Barry Hart bhart@amec.coop ack in December 1948, the leaders of Missouri's electric cooperatives knew they had a problem to solve. The goal of providing electricity to every person who wanted it was nearly complete. Members who had experienced the life-changing benefits of electricity were no longer content to write postcards when their service went down. Dairy farmers had added to their herds now that milking could be done electrically. Families held fake funerals for their coal-oil lamps, so they were left in the dark when the power went out. Electric heat was catching on, and new homes were being built with no backup way to keep warm. Earlier, those leaders had formed the Missouri State Rural Electrification Association to share ideas on how to make their cooperatives more efficient. Through that association, Boone Electric Cooperative's Manager R.J. Martin proposed a bold plan. Martin wanted to use one of the seven cooperative principles - cooperation among cooperatives - to speed power restoration after a major storm. Most electric cooperatives at the time only had a handful of line- men. This was sufficient under normal day-to-day operations. But after a major storm, it could take a long time for the crews to make repairs. Martin's idea was to call on systems out of harm's way to lend a hand. In one of those cases of extreme irony, it was Martin's cooperative that sent out the first frantic "mayday" just one month later. The great ice storm of 1949 hit central Missouri hard, and Boone Electric's lines were ravaged by the weight of heavy ice. Martin's plea for help was answered by three men and a pickup truck from Farmers' Electric in Chillicothe. This wasn't near enough assistance, but more calls for help had to be relayed around the state by the Highway Patrol's radios since no phones were operating. Eventually, crews from Black River Electric, Howell-Oregon Electric, Intercounty Electric and Scott-New Madrid-Mississippi (now SEMO) Electric responded in force. Howell-Oregon and Three Rivers Electric also sent crews to assist Callaway Electric. From such humble beginnings, the mutual assistance program coordinated by the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives now works like a well-oiled machine. A manager at an electric cooperative today whose system has more "Thanks to the cooperative way, Missouri's electric cooperatives know someone always has their back." Barry Hart outages than it can quickly handle needs to make just one phone call and help is on the way. You wouldn't be happy if your coop hired more people than it could keep busy. Thanks to this program, that doesn't need to happen. With each storm that strikes, those involved meet after the power is restored to analyze the response and make suggestions for improving the plan. In December, for example, crews were dispatched from central Missouri to SEMO Electric before the storm hit. Their trucks were loaded with materials in advance, and they were well rested before the first outages occurred. As a result, repairs were made before most members knew they were without power. We've also extended our assistance - and calls for help - to states as far away as the Gulf Coast to ensure you spend as little time without electricity as possible. No one likes to be alone during times of crisis. Thanks to the cooperative way, Missouri's electric cooperatives know someone always has their back. Hart is the executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. Guest Column Navigating the health insurance market T by Nanette Foster Reilly info@ruralmissouri.coop hanks to the Affordable Care Act, about 85 percent of Americans who already have health insurance are seeing their benefits and coverage better protected and seeing enhanced benefits. For example, insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on your health insurance benefits so your insurance company can't stop paying its share once you hit a certain dollar amount. At least 80 percent of your premium dollar now has to be directed to pay for your health-care benefits, and not overhead such as salaries and bonuses for insurance company executives. If less than 80 percent is used for health-care benefits, your insurance company will owe you a rebate at the end of the year. Also, young adults up to the age of 26 can stay on their parent's insurance. These are just a few examples of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act law since it was implemented in 2010. Uninsured Americans, roughly 15 percent of the nation's population, will finally gain access to quality, affordable health care from private health insurance companies. Initial enrollment began Oct. 1, through a new way to shop for health insurance. The Health Insurance Marketplace gives Americans who are uninsured, or who buy their own coverage, a whole new way to shop for coverage. All private health insurance plans that operate in the marketplace are required to cover a comprehensive set of benefits, including physician visits, preventive care, hospital stays and prescriptions. Discrimination based on gender and pre-existing conditions is banned. Many individuals and families will qualify for a break on their monthly premium and other out-ofpocket costs, depending on their income, through advanced tax credits or through costsharing reductions. Be sure to include your income on your application to find out if you qualify for this help. With nearly half of all marketplaceeligible uninsured young adults able to get coverage at $50 or less per month, the health-care law is delivering the quality, affordable coverage people are looking for. It is important for consumers to know that starting in 2014, the law says that individuals of all ages, including children, must have minimum essential health coverage, qualify for an exemption or make a shared responsibility payment when filing their federal income tax return. Consumers need to know that an accident causing a broken limb can cost upward of "Please educate yourself and others about the Health Insurance Marketplace and what it can offer you or others you know who may not have health insurance." Nanette Foster Reilly FEBRUARY 2014 $7,500, and a three-day hospital stay can cost thousands of dollars, out of pocket, without health insurance. In some cases, emergency health-care costs could unnecessarily bankrupt individuals and families. Health insurance coverage through the marketplace can be peace of mind. To enroll: * apply online at healthcare.gov; * call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855889-4325) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; or * find in-person help from certified assistants in your area. Go to www. localhelp.healthcare.gov and enter your zip code or city and state. Initial enrollment runs through March 31. Be sure to make your first month's premium payment after you have enrolled in a health plan, and check directly with your plan to ensure that your application for coverage is complete and when it becomes effective. Please educate yourself and others about the Health Insurance Marketplace and what it can offer you or others you know who may not have health insurance. It could be peace of mind for years to come. Reilly is consortium administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Kansas City regional office. 5 http://www.healthcare.gov http://localhelp.healthcare.gov http://localhelp.healthcare.gov

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2014

Rural Missouri - February 2014
Contents
Comments
Columns
Ministering to motorists
A mid-winter read
Fighting more than fires
Outdoors
Out of the Way Eats
Metal & music
Honest Abe
Hearth and Home
The Missouri Dinosaur
Around Missouri
Marketplace
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - February 2014

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