Are we better off than four years ago? Part 5

Yes — More Asian Americans have access to affordable health care and more attention is being paid to studying and addresses diseases that disproportionately affect our community.

Conservatives derisively refer to the Affordable Care Act as ObamaCare.  I think it is a compliment – President Obama does care.  He accomplished what every President since Nixon has failed to do – he successfully fought the insurance companies and made significant reforms to our health care system.

As a result, an estimated 2 million additional AAPIs will be able to obtain coverage through the private health insurance exchanges and an additional 1 in 20 Asian Americans will be covered through the expansion of Medicaid.  The new law also will expand the ability of community health centers to reach currently underserved communities.

In addition, Asian American parents now are able to maintain health insurance coverage for their kids until they are better able to obtain coverage on their own.  There are stronger anti-discrimination provisions, better support for those in our community who are limited in their ability to speak English and improved data collection practices.  Insurance companies also are no longer able to charge women higher premiums based on gender and call domestic violence a “pre-existing condition” for which they can refuse coverage.  In fact, insurance companies will be required to cover birth control, screening, counseling and other preventative care for domestic violence, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The Obama Administration has also been willing to invest resources in attacking health issues that particularly affect minority communities.  After soliciting input from Asian American health experts, HHS developed an action plan for the prevention and treatment of Hepatitis B, a silent disease that can lead to liver cancer.  Over 50% of Americans with Hepatitis B are Asian Americans who are also 7 times more likely to die from the disease than White Americans.  The initiative provided funding to community organizations, a public service announcement campaign, training and technical assistance to health centers and other support.  As a result, over 40% of AAPIs surveyed reported being tested.

Long neglected in health studies, HHS has significantly increased the participation of Asian Americans in its surveys.  As the Hepatitis B story shows, this research is important to being able to effectively target and improve the health of minority communities.