Isn’t it frustrating when a mechanical error delays your flight? I remember feeling like I may be stuck on the plane forever, but eventually the problem was fixed and the plane took off. I soon arrived at my destination and forgot about the grueling hours I just spent waiting.

The launch of the Affordable Care Act feels very similar. Most Americans are stuck waiting for the mechanical errors to be fixed before the program can “take off.”

Having studied the Affordable Care Act for countless hours, I am aware of most of the political issues of this new law. I decided to consciously work toward not arguing my political point of view but learn how this law will actually affect individuals and businesses once everything is fully functioning. I believe the most power an individual has is to vote and that arguing politics will only burn time, energy and emotions. It seems that our country is preparing to launch to a new designation that will soon require most individuals to have health insurance, and I would like to inform you about some key elements of the new law as it may affect you.

All individuals and families will need to have health insurance in 2014 or they will pay a penalty on their tax return for every month they didn’t have health insurance. According to, the penalty will be $95 a person ($47.50 for children 18 and under) with the maximum penalty being $285 or the greater of 1 percent of the Adjusted Gross Income. Using those figures for 2014, a family making $50,000 that does not have health insurance could pay a penalty of $500.

The tax penalty for employers does not start until 2015 and it will be for companies that have 50 or more full-time equivalent employees.

Generally, an individual with Medicare has proper coverage for the health insurance requirement. A Medicare Advantage or a Medigap plan can be additionally purchased but is not required to meet the health insurance requirement.

Individuals on their parent’s policy should qualify as having the correct health insurance coverage. Also, an individual or family that has health insurance through their employer should also meet the health insurance requirement. Individuals that currently pay for their own health insurance can continue with that coverage and will also avoid the tax penalty.

However, individuals and families paying for their health insurance may qualify for some tax credits to help pay the premiums if their insurance for 2014 is purchased through Cover Oregon.

Individuals with their coverage through the Oregon Health Plan will also be correctly covered for health insurance in 2014. Individuals that are currently on the Oregon Health Plan should have received a “fast-track” letter earlier this month. That paperwork should be filled out and returned to allow that individual to continue with Oregon Health Plan coverage in 2014.

Anyone without health insurance will need to enroll in a health insurance plan unless they are exempt. The different ways a person can be exempt from health insurance can be found at

As we wait for the takeoff, I hope that you are confident you will be ready to meet the health insurance requirement.

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