Asian Pacific Health Care Venture, Inc. Helps Address Community Concerns Regarding Health Care Reform
November 12, 2013
In the last month, Health Care Reform has had many ups and downs with the roll out of the Health Insurance Marketplaces across the nation. The climate was very similar some 50 years ago, when Medicare was first introduced in the United States, with its opponents eager to point out the flaws in the program. California is one of 18 states that has chosen to implement a state-based Health Insurance Marketplace, rather than participate in the federally run program. Since going live on October 1st, the Health Insurance Marketplace, called Covered California (www.CoveredCA.com), has not experienced the types of problems the federal website has, but has had slow enrollment.
At a press conference held at Asian Pacific Health Care Venture, Inc. (APHCV), Ms. Kazue Shibata, Chief Executive Officer, stressed the importance of ensuring the community has access to relevant and accurate information through trusted media sources regarding health insurance programs that are now available because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Open enrollment through Covered CA began on October 1st and has generated much interest, but has, reportedly, been receiving varied responses.
Some may perceive that health insurance is expensive, “But is it expensive? No, because there are subsidies you can use to offset the costs…The real question is how much is your health worth?” asked Ms. Shibata. She points out, “There is a difference between an expense and expensive.” For the uninsured, that have never had to pay a monthly premium for their health care, this new expense might seem expensive. Often times, those without insurance do not seek care until they are ill, and are then left large medical expenses that lead to debt. With expanded health insurance coverage, Ms. Shibata says, “it will change the way we use health care and take care of ourselves.”
APHCV is a certified Covered CA Enrollment Entity and has certified Enrollment Workers that can provide clients with information about Covered CA and assist with enrollment into a health insurance plan. Ms. Penny Chen, M.P.H., Enrollment Services Unit Coordinator, discusses how enrollment into Covered CA and expanded Medi-Cal will increase access to affordable, comprehensive health care.
Ms. Chen explains that with Medi-Cal expansion, more people will be qualified as they will no longer be evaluated based on, how much money one has in the bank or how many houses one owns. Low- and middle-income consumers, who don’t qualify for Medi-Cal, may be eligible for tax credits on their premiums when they enroll into Covered CA, to help make the purchase of health insurance more affordable. Both Medi-Cal and Covered CA will also not deny coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma or diabetes.
With over 12,000 patient visits every year, 70% of APHCV patients are uninsured. Those currently in the Healthy Way LA (HWLA) Matched program will automatically be enrolled in Medi-Cal. In Los Angeles, it is estimated that 300,000 members will be qualified to enroll in Medi-Cal once the HWLA Matched program ends on December 31, 2013.
While people with undocumented immigration status cannot participate in the ACA; children with citizenship or those lawfully in the United States with undocumented parents are eligible to apply to Medi-Cal or Covered CA. APHCV offers programs and a sliding scale fee to cover the cost of medical care for those who do not qualify for Covered CA or Medi-Cal. “There are a lot of different groups in our community,” says Ms. Shibata, “We take in everybody regardless of legal status and insurance.”
APHCV is working tirelessly to make the health insurance enrollment process easy and find a health plan that best meets the needs of each individual within our community. Enrollment Workers at APHCV can provide information and enrollment assistance in ten Asian languages (Bengali, Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Khmer, Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese), as well as English and Spanish. Enrollment Workers are, also, planning outreach activities and working with churches, community organizations, and the media to help our communities make informed decision about health insurance coverage.
Health insurance coverage through Covered CA and Medi-Cal will take effect on January 1, 2014. For more information, please contact Penny Chen at email@example.com or 323-644-3880 ext. 507.
Asian Pacific Health Care Venture, Inc. (www.aphcv.org) is a nonprofit federally-qualified health center that provides culturally competent health education and primary care services to over 12,000 patients annually, more than 72% of whom are uninsured. APHCV provides over 46,400 medical and mental health visits each year in multiple Asian languages, in addition to English and Spanish. APHCV operates four community health center sites: the Belmont Health Center, El Monte/Rosemead Health Center, John Marshall High School Health Center (for John Marshall High School students) and Los Feliz Health Center. APHCV can be reached at (323) 644-3880. Medical appointments for the Belmont Health Center can be made by calling (323) 644-3885, El Monte/Rosemead Health Center at (626) 774-2988, and Los Feliz Health Center at (323) 644-3888.