By Dr. Howard K. Koh
As a physician for over 30 years, I have seen the patient benefits of having health insurance as well as the problems of lacking it.
Nearly one in five Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) does not have health insurance. Without insurance, AAPIs may have a harder time accessing critical health care, putting them at greater risk of chronic and preventable diseases, such a hepatitis B and certain cancers.
The good news is that two million AAPIs without health insurance can get covered thanks to the Affordable Care Act. For AAPIs, the law’s benefits will help reduce disparities in both health care and health outcomes through expanded insurance coverage and better access to high-quality health care services.
More than 5 million Americans have already enrolled in health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Millions of consumers and thousands of AAPIs are now enjoying the peace of mind that comes with new health coverage.
Many AAPI families across the country are finally able to afford health care. In Minnesota, Mr. Cha*, a Hmong American small business owner, age 62, had previously paid over $700 for health insurance for him, his wife, and two children. By going to a certified navigator who provided in-person enrollment assistance in Hmong, he learned that his children qualified for Medicaid while he and his wife were able to enroll in a qualified health plan for under $400 per month.
I encourage you to visit HealthCare.gov to sign up for affordable healthcare. Across the country, six out of 10 uninsured Americans can get covered for $100 per month or even less.
For those who are limited in their English proficiency, there are also educational materials available in Asian languages at ed.gov/aapihealthcare.
If you or someone you care about is uninsured, it’s not too late to sign up for quality, affordable coverage – but you’ll want to act today and before March 31. If you don’t enroll by March 31, you can’t enroll again until November 2014.
Sign up today online at HealthCare.gov; over the phone with help available in 150 languages at the 24/7 call center at 1-800-318-2596; or directly through an issuer, agent, or broker. You can also find in-person assistance in your community at localhelp.healthcare.gov.
*Name changed by request. Statistics and consumer stories provided by the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum.
Dr. Howard K. Koh is Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services