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Ed. note: This was originally published on the White House Blog. See the original post at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/01/26/urging-asian-americans-and-pacific-islanders-getcovered.
The summer after he graduated from college, Kalwis Lo learned he had stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that attacks the lymphatic system. His private health insurance plan denied him coverage for treatment, claiming the cancer diagnosis was a “pre-existing condition.” Every major private health plan turned him away. His family was forced to dip into their savings and ask friends and family for help to cover the cost of his testing and chemotherapy treatments. His family faced financial strain until Kalwis discovered that the Affordable Care Act created a temporary program for anyone denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. He enrolled in the program and that fall, Kalwis was able to get the treatment he needed and today is cancer-free.
Kalwis’s story is one of the reasons why President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. No one should be denied health insurance coverage when they need it most.
Unfortunately, many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) still lack health insurance coverage and don’t see a doctor on a regular basis. In fact, in 2010, nearly 24% of Asian Americans and over 37% of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders reported that they had not seen a doctor in the past year. Through the Affordable Care Act, nearly 2 million uninsured AAPIs gained access to health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, and it is likely that eight in 10 will qualify for financial assistance!
So today, I encourage all Americans -- including AAPIs across the country -- who have not enrolled for health insurance to learn more, get engaged, and enroll in health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaceby February 15.
To encourage AAPI families to get health coverage, throughout the week of January 26-30, the White House, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are partnering with community groups to hold enrollment events for AAPI families to learn about the Affordable Care Act and receive free, in-person, and in-language assistance to enroll in health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Partners also plan to be active on social media, using hashtag #AAPIhealth, to share information, resources, and stories of AAPIs who have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act.
For more information on the Affordable Care Act, visit HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596. Translation services are available. The call is free. And remember to enroll before February 15, 2015!
Tina Tchen is the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff for the First Lady.
When Astrid Muhammad heard her phone ring this
past Friday, the last thing she expected was a call from the White House inviting her to attend this year’s State of the Union as a guest of the first lady.
A wife and mother of two young children, Muhammad woke up on a spring morning in 2013 and knew something was wrong. A visit to the doctor in May revealed a
mass growing on her brain. At the time she didn’t have health insurance and delayed treatment and surgery that, according to neurosurgeons, would mean the
difference between life and death. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, insurance
companies could have refused treatment for her pre-existing tumor, charge higher rates or denied her coverage altogether. But, after discovering the Health
Insurance Marketplace, Muhammad was able to find quality affordable health insurance coverage. So this past summer, she had her tumor successfully removed
and is now moving on with her life.
And she is not alone. She attended the President’s State of the Union address as a representative of all those who have received insurance and care which
has changed or saved their lives, or given them the peace of mind they need to rest more easily, without the worry that an unexpected health challenge
could threaten their lives or livelihoods.
During this African-American Community Week of Action, leaders, communities and families across the country are working together to ensure that all of
their loved ones, neighbors and fellow Americans have the health insurance they need – and that those who are not covered visit HealthCare.gov to get
covered right away.
Since the start of Affordable Care Act's first open enrollment period last year, the uninsured rate among non-elderly African-Americans has declined by 30
percent. In just one year, 1.7 million uninsured African-Americans gained health coverage, and that doesn’t include the 500,000 African-American young
adults who now have coverage under their parents’ health insurance plans. And as more Americans take advantage of the current open enrollment period that
ends Feb. 15, 2015, those numbers will continue to grow.
These strides are particularly important given the unique health challenges, and historic and structural barriers to care often faced in African-American
communities. African-Americans have the highest cancer mortality rate of any ethnic group, a lower average life expectancy than white Americans, along with
higher rates of infant mortality and chronic disease.
The Affordable Care Act is helping to change the way many in African-American communities think about their health, the need for coverage, and for those
who already had coverage – it has protected their investment.
But the Affordable Care Act is breaking down many of the health barriers this community has faced. An estimated 7.8 million African-Americans now have
access to expanded preventive services such as mammograms, well-child visits and flu shots with no out-of-pocket costs. And with the investment of $11
billion in community health centers nationwide, the law is dramatically expanding access to quality care facilities in many African-American neighborhoods.
Still, for every story like Astrid’s, there remain countless more Americans in need of insurance, in need of quality care, and perhaps still unaware that
the coverage they need is just a few clicks or a phone call away.
So visit HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 to find out more. This year’s Open Enrollment period ends on Feb.
15, so if you or someone you care about is in need of health insurance, do not wait. Get covered today.
Ed. note: This was originally published on the White House Blog. See the original post at
As we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we can also commemorate a significant milestone on our journey toward health equity.
One year after Dr. King displayed the power of perseverance and partnership in a five-day march from Montgomery to Selma, he delivered a speech in Chicago
at the annual meeting of the Medical Committee for Human Rights. In that speech he linked the quest for equality to health care, saying: “Of all the forms
of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
Those words have resonated for many years with health equity champions dedicated to eliminating health disparities. Among them is former U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Margaret Heckler, who led HHS from 1983 - 1985. After Secretary Heckler sent the nation’s annual report on health
to Congress in 1984, she noted the “sad and significant fact” of a continuing disparity in the burden of death and illness experienced by minorities.
To combat this disparity, Secretary Heckler established the group that developed The Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health in
1985, commonly known as the Heckler Report. As the first federal recognition
of eliminating health disparities as a national priority, the Heckler Report documented persistent health disparities that accounted for 60,000 excess
deaths each year and synthesized ways to advance health equity. It also led to the establishment of the HHS Office of Minority Health, which has worked for
nearly 30 years to improve the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help
eliminate health disparities.
Dr. King’s clarion call continues to ring powerfully as we face another moment of opportunity to make steps toward health equity for all. Thanks to the
Affordable Care Act, there has been an historic decrease in the uninsured. In just one year we’ve reduced the number of uninsured by about 10 million
people. Meanwhile, millions of Americans have signed up for health coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace. And 3 million young adults have gained
coverage through a parent’s plan.
Millions more still have an opportunity to gain vital health insurance coverage now, during open enrollment in the Marketplace, which ends on February 15.
With every American who gains access to quality affordable health care, we are building upon the momentum created by the Heckler Report; and we are
broadening our national response to Dr. King’s call for health equity for all.
Since the Heckler Report was released, progress has been made. The life expectancy gap between blacks and whites is at its narrowest. Cancer disparities
are improving for all minority groups, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Childhood immunization disparities are closing for Native Americans
and teen birth rates have dropped for all races and Hispanic groups. But our work is not yet done. Health and health care disparities persist. And having
access to quality, affordable health care is as essential to accelerating health equity for minority communities as addressing social determinants of
health, such as where we live, work and where our children play.
Dr. King’s legacy shines bright today as we reflect on the progress we as a nation have made in advancing health equity and attaining the peace of mind
that comes with having affordable, quality health insurance coverage.
For more information about the Affordable Care Act
or call 800-318-2596 to sign up and get covered. For more information on the HHS Office of Minority Health, visit
Ever feel like the holiday season goes by in one hectic blur, leaving you exhausted and in need of some R&R? We often give so much to others that we
neglect to take care of ourselves. This year, in between the school recital, the office party and the trip to visit family, slow down and take a few
minutes to give yourself something special – the gift of health care – and get covered.
Open enrollment is underway in the Health Insurance Marketplace, where millions of Americans are going to compare and buy health insurance plans – many
through HealthCare.gov. The Marketplace is designed to make buying health care easier and more affordable. Since
the Marketplace opened for business last year, millions of people have signed up for plans, paid their premiums and accessed quality, affordable coverage.
In fact, more than 60 percent found coverage for less than $100 a month. Who doesn’t like getting a lot for
Here are more reasons to put this gift to yourself at the top of your holiday list and get covered:
Reason #1: Like a gift card, it’s a popular choice.
More than 1.3 million consumers have selected plans since the start of open enrollment on November 15. There have also been more than 2.5 million calls to
the call center and almost 8 million visitors to HealthCare.gov.
Reason #2: You won’t be duped by expensive warranties.
Because of the health care law, you have more consumer protections in your plan. You can’t be denied because of a pre-existing condition or face yearly or
lifetime limits. You may also be eligible for tax credits to lower your costs.
Reason #3: You won't have to stand in line to switch it for a different size.
Shop multiple coverage options and find a plan that fits your budget and your health care needs. With 25 percent more issuers this year, you’ll have even more choices for 2015.
You won’t end up discreetly re-gifting it at the office swap next year.
Once you’re covered, you can take advantage of preventive services with no co-pay and
other benefits so you save on out-of-pocket costs. Learn more about making the most of your insurance.
Reason #5: Even on December 26, you still have time.
Sign up by January 15, and you can start coverage as soon as February 1. Marketplace open enrollment closes for 2015 on February 15.
The Affordable Care Act has made health insurance coverage more affordable and accessible to you. So what are you waiting for? Visit HealthCare.gov or call 800-318-2596 to sign up and get covered, and give to your loved ones
this season by giving back to yourself.
Ed. note: This was originally published on the HHS Blog. See the original post at http://www.hhs.gov/blog/2014/12/19/getcovered-collaboration-and-partnerships.html.
To reach more Americans across the country with important information for how to get health care coverage for 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced new public and private partnerships during the early weeks of Open Enrollment.
Last week, the department launched the first-of-its-kind partnership between HHS and the electronic cash transactions company PayNearMe to reach financially underserved and other cash-preferring consumers. During this year’s Open Enrollment period, all PayNearMe receipts printed at 7,800 7-Eleven stores nationwide will include a special announcement that informs consumers about upcoming Affordable Care Act deadlines and encourages them to explore beneficial options such as tax credits and newly available plans at HealthCare.gov. Putting these reminders at the bottom of PayNearMe receipts will help get health coverage information into the hands of traditionally hard-to-reach consumers.
To reach even more people, earlier this week HHS announced its collaboration with top technology platforms Monster.com, Peers.org and higi to utilize their technology platforms to encourage consumers to visit the Health Insurance Marketplace. These companies each reach a wide audience of consumers, and have committed to share enrollment information with their audiences. HHS is collaborating with Monster.com to provide content on open enrollment to job-seekers through their online platform. The Marketplace provides job-seekers without employer-sponsored insurance affordable, quality health insurance options. Posting information about open enrollment on Monster.com helps connect job-seekers with those coverage options while they seek new employment opportunities. Peers is the world's largest independent sharing economy community, whose mission is to make the sharing economy work for the people who power it. Peers supports sharing economy workers with Income Discovery and a Support Marketplace, to make the sharing economy a better work opportunity. Higi, a kiosk-based health engagement platform, has placed engaging Marketplace Open Enrollment messaging on the overhead screens of their interactive stations tracking key health vitals (eg: Blood Pressure, BMI, Weight, Body Fat, etc.) located in the Pharmacy area of 2,000 Kroger, 1,000 Super Valu/Albertson’s, and 250 Meijer stores nationally. The messaging was posted December 5 and will remain throughout Open Enrollment.
And today, HHS shared its most recent collaboration with the nation’s largest pharmacies to promote the Health Insurance Marketplace. Pharmacies are a trusted source of health information in communities and can provide information directly to consumers looking for quality and affordable health coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Pharmacies including, Ahold USA Companies, Bi-Lo Holdings, CVS Health, H-E-B, Kroger, Meijer, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Walmart are playing an important role in providing this information to people across the country. Pharmacists have been trained to answer basic questions about the Marketplace, and they know where to direct customers for enrollment assistance throughHealthCare.gov, the call center, or through local in-person assistance. Special brochures, signage, circular advertisements, and other marketing materials have been and will be on display in many stores, providing consumers with information on health insurance and how to get enrolled. Many pharmacies have webpages dedicated to the Affordable Care Act and health insurance information. Pharmacy-based enrollment events are planned across the country and some pharmacies will have assisters available in stores to help enroll customers.
The work continues to help people sign up to get covered for 2015 – visit HealthCare.gov for more information.