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Insurance deadline looms

Those without insurance after Feb. 15 will have to pay a fine

This Sunday, Feb. 15, is the last chance to sign up for health insurance for 2015, and health care organizations are scrambling to get as many people signed up as they can.

New regulations from the Affordable Care Act have made it easier for many people to qualify for and afford health insurance — but that comes at a price. Americans who fail to purchase health insurance will be required to pay a fine through their income taxes of $325 per person in their household or 2 percent of their income, whichever is higher.

Oregon Health & Science University published a study in September that found that since the Affordable Care Act’s requirements went into effect last year, Oregon’s uninsured had gone from 14 percent to 5.1 percent of the total population.

“This first glance at Oregon’s uninsured rates shows that a significant number of Oregonians have benefited from expansions in access to health insurance,” said Peter Graven, Ph.D., health economist with the Center for Health Systems Effectiveness at OHSU and lead author on the study. “Our study found that 95 percent of Oregonians now have health insurance coverage.”

(The number today is likely to be higher as the study looked at enrollment up to June 30, 2014.)

The study found that most of the newly insured qualified for the low-income Oregon Health Plan, which saw a 53 percent jump. Private insurers saw a 20 percent boost in enrollment, according to the study.

For those few uninsured stragglers left, Legacy Emmanuel Hospital’s Lorenzen Center is hosting a Last Chance Open Enrollment Fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 14, at 2801 N Gantenbein Ave.

By Shasta Kearns Moore
email: shasta@portlandtribune.com
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