In my career as a practicing nurse, I cared for patients with costly health problems. It was not uncommon to see people sick with preventable illnesses. The same is true today. Getting timely health care often depends on whether people have insurance, and research shows that being uninsured is associated with more illness and thousands of deaths annually.
While over 20,000 North Dakotans have quality coverage through www.healthcare.gov, others are without any insurance at all. With insurance comes access to health services that can help people stay healthy and manage chronic illnesses. Being healthy means people can fully care for their families, engage in their community, and hold down a job. Yet for too many people, all of this can be compromised by an unexpected illness or injury.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Insurance coverage is available now during open enrollment season at www.healthcare.gov. However, applications must be submitted by Dec. 15 or individuals must wait a year for the next enrollment period.
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Unfortunately, too many North Dakotans are unaware of the deadline. And, they are unaware that three out of four healthcare.gov customers can find a plan with a monthly premium of $75 or less. For others who are not eligible for financial help, the cost of some insurance coverage is down this year.
Healthcare.gov plans cannot deny coverage or charge more for people with pre-existing health problems like high blood pressure. And, there is no cost associated with important care like cancer screenings. Free assistance is available by calling 800-318-2596 or by going directly to the website www.healthcare.gov.
With limited time to enroll, it takes all of us to get the word out where we work, live and worship. For many North Dakota families, it can make the difference for a healthy new year.
Mary Wakefield, Grand Forks