Minneapolis advocates work to get Somalis signed up for MNsure

There's less than two weeks to go for all of us to have some form of health insurance, or be penalized by the government.

That means there's a last minute push in communities like Minneapolis's Cedar Riverside Neighborhood to sign people up.

Every immigrant community has its own unique barriers, but in the Somali community, advocates are racing against both time and culture.

Timadde Aden is a typical case. He's never had health insurance, but enrolled for medical assistance today through MNsure at the Somali Health Solutions office in Minneapolis.

One of the employees at that office, Hodan Guled, says, "Many of these folks may have not been to a doctor because they don't have health insurance or because they don't really understand how the system works."

MNsure is reaching out to minority communities through TV ads, but the Somali community needs a more personal touch.

That's where Faisal Derie comes in.

Derie has set up shop in restaurants and housing complexes, talking one on one with anyone who will listen. He's a one-man sales pitch that has helped hundreds sign up for health insurance.

"We tell them this is important and if you don't get it and you get hospitalized you will be billed so hard and you won be able to pay the bill by yourself," Derie says.

To give you another example of the cultural barriers, today Fox 9 met with a man named Kamel Ahmed.

Three weeks ago, Ahmed suffered chest pain and went to the hospital, where he had stents put into his heart.

He didn't heave health insurance -- but he has it now.

Derie knows firsthand how financially taxing such experiences can be.

"When I was living in San Diego, California I was hospitalized when I didn't have health insurance and a couple of days later I was billed to pay $35,000," Derie says.adv

Still, better late than never.

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