This New Year is bringing many changes to the rules of health care.

One of the biggest changes in 2014 is that all individuals must have health insurance or they may have to pay a penalty when they file their 2014 taxes in early 2015.

If someone does not currently have health insurance, there is a very good possibility that they will face a penalty unless they are exempt from having health insurance. The different exemptions can be viewed at by searching for “exemptions.”

Generally, someone will probably not be exempt if they are working and plan on filing a tax return. Although individuals must have insurance starting Jan. 1, there is thankfully a three-month grace period for individuals to enroll into an insurance plan before they will receive a penalty.

It is important to note that after March 31, an individual without insurance will not be able to enroll into an individual health insurance plan until 2015.

There are other qualifying events that will allow someone to enroll outside of the enrollment period that ends in March 2014, but is generally limited to a change in employment, moving into a different state and changes to your family size because of a marriage, birth or divorce.

An individual without insurance can purchase some directly from a health insurance company by March 31. An individual may also apply through Cover Oregon to potentially receive financial assistance for the monthly premiums. Applications that were submitted to Cover Oregon in December are still being processed right now so it is advisable for an individual to apply to Cover Oregon as soon as possible in order to be enrolled by the end of March.

If someone was successful in enrolling in health insurance through Cover Oregon by the Dec. 27 deadline, they should have received information by the beginning of the year from the health insurance company that they picked to insure them. The payment for the premium for the Jan. 1 insurance must be submitted to their insurance company by Jan. 15.

With the changes of health care through the Affordable Care Act, individuals are able to switch to any health insurance company they want without the fear of not qualifying for insurance because of a pre-existing condition.

This may have caused an individual to switch from the insurance company they were familiar with to a different insurance company that offered a lower monthly premium.

It is a good practice for individuals to always verify that they understand how their policy functions when they have a medical claim. It is also a good idea for individuals to double check that their doctor or clinic that they will see are in the network of their insurance company.

Individuals can learn more about the plan they enrolled in by asking for help from health insurance agents. Individuals can also receive free help in enrolling in a plan from a health insurance agent.

Finally, individuals should know that they do not need to switch insurance if they are currently insured through their employer or are paying their own health insurance. For the most part, these individuals have met the requirement to have health insurance and should not receive a penalty.

However, those individuals paying for their own insurance should see if they would be eligible for any tax credits through Cover Oregon.

Individuals that are on Medicare have also met the requirement to have health insurance for 2014.

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