Helping Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders #GetCovered by January 31
By Tina Tchen and US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy
When Lusi Maumau’s husband changed jobs, they lost their health insurance. They went uninsured for months – scrimping and saving for a basic doctor’s visit and praying that no medical emergency would hit them.
Because of the Affordable Care Act , they were able to review their options with someone in their community and find a plan that worked for them. Lusi found a plan that provided the quality health care coverage her family needed, and was truly affordable.
Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010, stories like Lusi’s have been repeated again and again. She and her husband are two of the nearly 18 million Americans who have gained health care coverage. And, if you still haven’t enrolled, the time to do so is now.
In spite of so much progress, too many of our fellow Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) lack health coverage and don’t see a doctor regularly. In fact, 1 in 4 AAPIs has not seen a doctor in the past year; among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, it’s only about 1 in 3. Under the Affordable Care Act, nearly two million uninsured AAPIs have gained access to health care options. However, more than 200,000 people in our communities still don’t have the safety, security, and peace of mind that comes from being covered.
This week, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders , housed within the US Department of Education, in collaboration with the Action for Health Justice collaborative, kicks off its third annual National AAPI Affordable Care Act Week of Action to urge AAPIs and others to #GetCovered. You have until January 31, 2016 , to enroll through the Health Insurance Marketplace .
The Week of Action’s activities include a stakeholder call today; an #AAPIhealth Twitterstorm on Wednesday; and additional social media activity to share information, resources, and stories throughout the week. For the latest information and resources, including in-language materials, click here .
Lusi and her husband’s journey to getting quality, affordable health care would not have been possible without in-person assistance. In-person assisters, also known as navigators , are trained experts on the enrollment process. Many of these experts speak multiple languages and are often community members themselves, helping individuals and their families sign up for the health insurance – many getting coverage for the first time.
For example, Wah Wah Kyaw is a Burmese American outreach worker at a nonprofit in Philadelphia. As a navigator, Wah Wah receives satisfaction in helping her clients obtain health care services and educating them about the benefits of health insurance. A refugee to the US, she works as a navigator because she wants to give back to her community by educating others about the importance of having health coverage.
Krishna Bista is a navigator who works out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he encountered a woman at a Nepali store. After speaking with her, Krishna discovered that the woman did not have health insurance for herself or her baby. Krishna offered to assist her in enrolling and was able to submit the application within less than a week.
As a navigator, Krishna has seen many clients who have never made doctor’s appointments or dealt with medical bills, or knew how to apply for health insurance. Thankfully, Krishna is there to help.
Check out your options for coverage that meets your needs and budget at HealthCare.gov . You can also call 1-800-318-2596 FREE for help in nearly 250 languages, or find help in your community at LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov . The deadline to enroll is January 31, 2016 .
Remember: health equity is a civil rights issue. It’s an AAPI community value. We can prevent so much death, disease and harm by taking better care of our health. And it starts with making sure you are covered.
(Dr Vivek Murthy is the United States Surgeon General and Vice Admiral of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. He also serves as Co-Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Tina Tchen se rves as Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff for the First Lady)