The central role of health in the well-being of individuals, families, and communities is indisputable. KAA believes that it is critical to expand access to health care in our community, which has one of the highest rates of uninsurance of any demographic group.
Health coverage varies widely among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs). Korean Americans in particular face extremely high rates of uninsurance. From 2004 to 2006, 31% of Korean Americans were uninsured, among the highest of any demographic group. A recent study projected that even after ObamaCare, 14.6% of Korean Americans would still be uninsured, even under partial expansion of Medicaid at the state level.
The high rate of uninsurance often occurs among those who work for, or own, small businesses that do not offer health insurance benefits. More than half of Korean Americans work in businesses with fewer than twenty-five employees. Yet, only half of them receive coverage through their employer. Korean Americans have one of the lowest rates (49%) of employer-sponsored health coverage among AANHPIs. South Asians by comparison have the highest rate (75%).
Public programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) play an important role in reducing uninsurance rates. Expansions of these programs have helped decrease the number of uninsured. Other barriers have to do with language and culture, which compound misinformation about eligibility and the enrollment process.
KAA does not advocate for more mandates that would burden small businesses. We believe there must be a balance between regulating markets and allowing individuals and businesses to make good choices. Though health care quality is based on a variety of factors, KAA’s current focus is on access. We believe that in order to expand access to health insurance, the public and private sectors must play their parts.
Special thanks to APIA Health Forum