Help Korean Americans Get Health Insurance by Feb. 15

by MICHAEL BYUN,  President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Did you know that Koreans Americans are eight times more likely to die of liver cancer than Caucasians are? Hepatitis B, the cause of liver cancer, is one of the largest health threats to Chinese Americans.

But this disease, like many other chronic diseases, is preventable. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the health care legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in March 2010, health care that can identify and treat preventable conditions is now affordable and accessible for all Americans, including Korean Americans. The Affordable Care Act requires most health plans to cover recommended preventive services, like cancer and blood pressure screenings, at no cost to you.


And because of the Affordable Care Act, there are no longer lifetime limits on medical costs. That means you won’t go broke from getting sick. And insurance companies can no longer deny you from getting health coverage or charge you extra based on a “pre-existing condition,” such as asthma, diabetes, or cancer.

I would like to share with you the story of a young man named Peter Yang, whose life changed for the better directly because of the Affordable Care Act. As a college student, Peter was expecting to study hard. However, when Peter would head to the library to study, he found himself overwhelmed by feelings of drowsiness. Peter called a nearby sleep specialist for help and in his senior year in college, was diagnosed with narcolepsy.

At the time, Peter was insured through his college and was able to see the specialist for his condition. But after graduating, he lost his insurance and the ability to pay for the medication that allowed him to function normally. All of the major providers denied him coverage because of his pre-existing condition and he could no longer afford to see his specialist. Peter’s narcolepsy began to significantly inhibit his day-to-day activities because of constant somnolence. The medication he needed cost $1,500 each month.


As soon as the Health Insurance Marketplace opened in October 2014, Peter jumped at the opportunity to enroll. He was one of the first to sign up and purchased a platinum-level Point of Service plan with the lowest deductible available to him. He also qualified for tax credits, which helped bring the monthly cost down to an affordable level.

He went back to the sleep specialist to get his narcolepsy back under control. He now has a $35 copay for each visit and pays $10 each month for the medication he needs. Now that Peter has access to care, he no longer falls asleep randomly, especially when driving.

Peter recalls, “I realized, you never really know what you’re missing until you get it back…you realize what a risk you’re taking when you don’t have access to health coverage.” Now, Peter works to help others sign up for health insurance.

The deadline to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace is February 15, 2015.

And, like Peter, you might find that you are eligible for financial assistance. In fact, 8 out of 10 people can find coverage for $100 or less a month with tax credits through the Marketplace. So why wait? Make sure you and your loved ones have the peace of mind you need to live long and healthy.

Visit or call 1-800-318-2596 and #GetCovered today.


Images courtesy of The White House Initiative on AAPIs.