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North Dakota's Uninsured being Heard

April 24, 2007

Northwood N.D. - If you are among the 12 percent of North Dakotans without health insurance, "Cover the Uninsured Week" focuses many of the state's efforts on helping you. An estimated 160,000 North Dakotans are without health insurance; about 28,000 are children.

Community health centers around the state have collected comments from people without insurance to send to state lawmakers. Sharon Erickson with Northwood's Valley Community Health Center says the uninsured get what she calls a "double whammy" -- not only do they pay the entire bill for their health care, but they also pay more than if they had coverage.

“Almost every provider charges a significantly higher rate than they expect to get paid, so if you don't have insurance, you are likely to pay the highest amount that a provider would ever collect.”

Erickson notes that many people without insurance are in financial peril, and that low-income families are the hardest hit.

“For low-income people, it's a matter of survival. If a hospital is charging you $200 a month or $200 a pay period to pay off a big bill, it would be hard to figure out how you are going to eat.”

As part of "Cover the Uninsured Week," community health centers around the state are providing information and application assistance so more North Dakotans can obtain low-cost or free health care coverage. Details are available online, at

Dick Layman/Eric Mack, Public News Service - ND