Health care coverage is important to all of us – from the very youngest who need the most care and attention for a healthy development, to the active and risk-taking young adults in us all, and to the elders who we all love and go to for guidance. It is no secret that health care reform is needed in the United States. Health care reform will continue to provide needed coverage to the uninsured and underinsured Asian and Pacific Islanders of our community and bans insurance companies from discriminating against insurance applicants with pre-existing conditions, including having a history of domestic violence.
We at NMAFC believe that health care is a human right. What about you? Let us know!
Because this is such an important issue to us, staff members wanted to share their stories with our community:
When I first came to the U.S., I worked as a graduate assistant and the university provided me with a health insurance. I could go to the school clinic for a small price. However, school insurance plan did not cover vision or dental. One time, I had a serious toothache so I went to the school clinic, but the only thing they could do was give me some painkillers and refer me to a dentist, whom I finaly saw after days of waiting. The dentist took about $100 for X-ray and recommended a root-canal surgery, but again they could only refer me to a bigger clinic for the surgery. It was another dreadful 2 or 3 weeks of waiting before I could actually had the surgery. It cost another $500. At that time, I was really frustrated because back in my country, people only have to pay one-tenth of the price compared to the U.S. even without the insurance and if you pay that much, you will expect a speedier process. I literally lived in pain during that 1-2 month of waiting and this is something I didn’t know before I came here.
Health care reform is important to me because now I will have access to quality, affordable coverage with a minimum benefit package which includes doctor’s and hospital visits, prescription medication, and mental health.
The types of barriers that I have encountered relating with healthcare access and insurance is that when I turned 18, I was no longer under my dad’s health insurance plan. For a few years, I was uninsured until my friend had told me about UNM Care (a county-based medical assistance program). I also had to pay out of pocket expenses before and even after I obtained health insurance. My family had difficulty applying and buying health insurance. Before my dad retired, my family was qualified for Medicaid since he made $9.00/hr. Instead of being on Medicaid, my family purchased my dad’s company’s health insurance plan. I am still not sure as to why we were not on Medicaid. After my dad retired, we are currently covered by UNM Care.
Health care reform is important to me because I would have been able to stay on my dad’s health insurance plan. I believe that having health insurance benefits me by allowing me to get check-ups ahead of time whenever I get sick. I would be able to have access to quality, affordable health coverage through Medicaid expansion and will not be limited to services at UNM Hospital and Clinics or First Choice Community Healthcare, Inc. like I am under UNM Care.
The only problem that I have with regards to health insurance or healthcare access is the language barrier. Since English is not my first language, it has been difficult for me to understand the American healthcare system. Thus, I have trouble navigating through. There are also times where I am unable to describe my symptoms in English because I either do not know the English equivalent or there is no English word to describe a Japanese word.
Health care reform is important to me because I will be able to get information about insurance in plain language and in a linguistically appropriate manner. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, there will be more health professionals who are bicultural and bilingual. There will also be training grants available to providers to improve their cultural competency.
Before health care coverage, I had to pay for private insurance which was a huge part of my already miniscule income as a graduate student. Regardless of coverage, it was extremely minimal and i often delayed or cancelled appointments that were crucial for preventative care.
Health care reform is important to me because children should be covered on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26. I was thrilled and no longer had the constant worry of how to pay for my insurance on top of how I would pay for my schooling and living costs. Health care reform is paramount for the mental and physical well-being of the people residing in this country and I am thankful that the country is making positive steps forward.
For more information on how health care reform impacts the Asian and Pacific Islander community, check out resources available through the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) here.