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Patience Urged as North Dakotans Deal with Healthcare Glitches

PHOTO: Work is being done around the clock to fix the glitches with the new healthcare marketplace, so those trying to enroll are being urged to practice patience.
PHOTO: Work is being done around the clock to fix the glitches with the new healthcare marketplace, so those trying to enroll are being urged to practice patience.
October 28, 2013

BISMARCK, N.D. - It has been a far from smooth roll-out for the country's new health care exchange, but fixes are under way, and people in North Dakota and across the country who are having trouble enrolling are being told to keep trying. Despite the glitches, attorney and advocate Trelisha Brown said, the marketplace will help many people access affordable health care.

"The goal is to get those folks who are either uninsured or under-insured actual benefits that at one point in time they did not have. So I would suggest that people just be mindful of the significance of this particular program," Brown said.

For those wanting coverage as of January 2014, the enrollment deadline is Dec. 15, 2013. The deadline to have insurance and avoid penalties under the individual mandate is March 31, 2014. Currently, about 70,000 eligible North Dakotans have no health insurance.

Since minorities are more apt to be uninsured or under-insured, the Affordable Care Act is expected to help reduce the health disparity gap. However, noted Brian Smedley, director, Healthy Policy Institute, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the process of getting health insurance to that population segment is just a first step.

"Currently, many people in highly segregated communities of color lack geographic access to care because there's a shortage of primary care providers, specialists, hospital care services, clinics, etc. So, the Affordable Care Act attempts to incentivize providers to work in medically under-served communities," Smedley explained.

The ACA also works to address the underlying conditions that have an effect on the health disparities between races due to factors such as residential segregation, he added, "conditions that, for example, impede access to healthy foods or a lack of safe spaces for exercise and play. The Affordable Care Act attempts to provide resources to help communities address these kinds of challenges in terms of neighborhood conditions that increase risk for poor health in the first place."

The direct and indirect costs associated with health inequities, from medical care to lost productivity and wages, cost the nation around $350 billion a year, Smedley estimated.

More information is available at http://1.usa.gov.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND