PSA: A New Way to Get Covered

Pictured above: Connie Lo (center, standing), a staffer with Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, helps with healthcare coverage enrollment.

by DOREENA WONG, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles

Obamacare means different things to different people. For Korean Americans and the broader Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community, the law – officially known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – means brighter futures and new possibilities. Thanks to the ACA, millions of people in our communities now have coverage and health insurance is more available than ever before.

People like the Khans were greeted with the unexpected, but very welcome news that they could get covered completely for free. The Khans had struggled to afford health insurance prior to Obamacare. They knew the value of coverage and the power of an insurance card because Kashif is a diabetic. He needs to see his doctor routinely and take daily medicines to manage his diabetes. Each month, they scrapped together the $500 to pay for Kashif’s insurance, leaving just $1000 to live on. Things had become so tight that they even started skipping meals.

All that changed when they visited the South Asian Network, a Southern California group working to sign up Asian Americans for health insurance. Rucha walked them through the application process in Urdu and told them they qualified for California’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal. Gone are the days of having to skip meals and pinch pennies just to see a doctor. Now, both the Khans have coverage they can rely on, completely free.

Having an insurance card is more than just the peace of mind of knowing you can see a doctor when you need it. It is also is the ticket to better health—something Min learned recently. Min is a pastor serving his Korean American community in Northern California. Like many faith leaders, he devotes his time to helping others but can’t afford insurance to take care of himself. With the help of the Korean Community Center of East Bay, Min found out he could get coverage for less than $100 a month. One of the first things Min did after getting his insurance card was to visit a doctor for a routine checkup, something he hasn’t been able to do for a while. While there, he found out he has colorectal cancer, a condition that while serious, can be treated. With his insurance card, Min is now getting the chemotherapy he needs. But without it, he not only wouldn’t have been able to afford his treatment, he might not have even known he was sick.

If you don’t have health insurance, now is the time to act.

Open enrollment runs through February 15, 2015. Individuals and families can shop for insurance coverage or find out where to sign up by going to the Marketplace website, One important thing to remember: if you do not have health insurance as of Jan. 1, 2015, you may have to pay a penalty.

Individuals and families can shop for insurance coverage or find out where to sign up by going to the Marketplace website, One important thing to remember: you must apply by Sunday, Dec. 21 to be covered by January 1, 2015. If you are not covered by January 1, you may have to pay a penalty for not having health insurance.

Coverage is available in every state and open to most people, including all U.S. citizens and lawfully present residents. People with limited income may even qualify for free or low-cost health insurance through their state Medicaid program or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Most people will qualify for financial help to reduce their out-of-pocket costs and help them afford coverage. And applying is easy. Simply visit, enter your state and shop for and select the plan that works best for you. Help is available in English and Asian and Pacific Islander languages by calling 1-800-318-2596. In addition, assistance is available, free of charge, at locations across the country. Call 213-241-0233 to learn more.

Stories like the Khans and Min offer just a glimpse of how life-changing Obamacare has been. Millions of Americans are already enjoying better, healthier futures. So what are you waiting for? Get covered today!


Photo courtesy of Quincy Surasmith/Advancing Justice-LA

Doreena Wong is the Project Director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles’ Health Access Project, a member of Action for Health Justice (AHJ). AHJ is the only national coalition dedicated to ensuring that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders realize the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.