Written by Ben Carter
I sometimes go to a nice coffee shop that's walking distance from my house to work. They have awesome hot chocolate, wi-fi and a great lunch menu.
Yesterday, I was thrilled to find one of my favorite seats in the coffee shop was available. It was a relatively slow business day for them, perfect for a "working from home" professional like myself.
Then, a middle-aged woman came and sat several seats to my right. She appeared to be in a great mood as she cheerfully spoke to someone on her cell phone. I soon noticed she had a slight cough. The slight cough soon turned into a "hack" that made me first wonder if she was okay... My mind moved on from concern for her to concern for myself as it was not clear whether she was buffering her cough with a covered hand or handkerchief. It sounded as if she was simply coughing into the wide open, coffee shop air... Allowing her flu-like cough particles to seep into the fresh coffee grinds.
What confused me most was the fact that she continued on with her cell phone conversation as if coughing continuously in a public space, while on the phone is not a violation of some sub-section of the United States' Bill of Rights.
Her coughing was so bad, myself and another woman sitting in the area kept looking at her from the corner of our eye. Our collective body language said, "So you're just going to continue coughing, all nasty like that?..." Eventually, the other woman sitting in the area got up in semi-disbelief (and a bit of disgust), in hopes she'd not catch whatever bug the cell-phone-cough-lady was recovering from.
I stayed in my seat. I wasn't going to let a no-cover-my-cough criminal drive me from the very space I most enjoy working.
Later that evening, I noticed I had the beginnings of the hated "scratchy throat". I've been hitting vitamin C and green tea pills since last night.
I tell this story to bring attention to the fast approaching deadline to enroll in a health insurance plan on February 15th. The Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) requires most Americans be enrolled in a health insurance plan by February 15th of each year or face tax penalties. If you're not enrolled in a plan offered by your employer or through the healthcare market place, you can face a fine on your taxes of either $95 or 1% of your income, (which ever number is greater).
Jeff Cohen of WNPR and April Dembosky of KQED turned in incredibly informative pieces that aired on NPR explaining how not having health insurance can hurt you and your family's bottom-line during tax season.
You can also find comprehensive information about the healthcare law here.
Make sure you're enrolled so you have health insurance coverage. Then, when you sit next to rude, people who cough in coffee shops, you'll at least have the comfort of knowing a tax fine will not arrive in the mail, right behind your flu diagnosis.