'Captain Phillips' stars promote MNsure in Somali community

Somali actors
Barkhad Abdi, left, and Faysal Ahmed, who both starred in the movie "Captain Phillips," talk about their experiences using MNsure to get health insurance to a small group gathered Friday, Mar. 21, 2014 at the Bryan Coyle Community Center in Minneapolis.
Jennifer Simonson/MPR News

The Minnesota stars from the 2014 academy-award winning picture, "Captain Phillips" will take on a role of a different kind tonight Minneapolis: raising awareness about the impending health insurance deadline.

Barkhad Abdi and Faysal Ahmed, who skyrocketed to stardom for their portrayals of Somali pirates, will be at the Bryan Coyle Center in the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, to pose for photos and urge people to enroll in health plans with assisters who will be on hand to help. On Friday, March 28, Abdi and Ahmed will be at the Great River Regional Library in St. Cloud from 3:00 to 5:45 p.m.

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The two actors have signed on as pitchmen for the state's online insurance marketplace, MNsure. They're encouraging the public to enroll in coverage before the March 31 deadline to avoid the federal health care law's penalty of $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater.

They also will encourage Minnesotans to secure health coverage before the option goes away with the end of open enrollment.

In one spot on YouTube, Ahmed says into the camera, "I got really sick, where I had to go to the hospital. I had a huge bill. I found out the hard way how tough it is without health insurance."

Many consumers who miss the March 31 deadline to buy a health plan on the individual market will have to wait until Nov, 15 to enroll again. There are exceptions, however, for consumers experience so-called life events for example, a birth of a child; marriage or divorce; or job loss.

Enrollment in government-sponsored programs, Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare, is available year-round.

Minnesota is home to at least 83,000 uninsured immigrants who may be eligible for health coverage through MNsure. The state has one of the largest Somali populations in the United States.

To reach out to Somalis, Abdi and Ahmed also are appearing in MNsure YouTube public service announcements speaking Somali.

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