LOS ANGELES (Nov. 3, 2015) — The 2016 enrollment period for the federal and state Health Insurance Marketplaces began on November 1, providing people across the country with the opportunity to shop, compare and enroll in health coverage.
Action for Health Justice (AHJ), a national coalition of more than 70 health groups including community-based organizations and health centers, including the 50 member strong California Health Justice Network (HJN), are working to provide one-on-one assistance to those who need help navigating the enrollment process or require assistance in Asian and Pacific Islander languages in 22 states. This work is crucial to reaching Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AAs and NHPIs), communities where one in three have difficulty speaking, writing, reading or understanding English.
During the first two Open Enrollment Periods, AHJ and HJN reached and enrolled nearly 850,000 AAs and NHPIs and provided assistance in 56 languages. California’s HJN trained and certified 129 Certified Enrollment Counselors who assisted AAs and NHPIs at over 30,000 community events. However, AHJ and HJN partners experienced challenges with in-language outreach, finding it difficult to clearly explain insurance terms and concepts in AA and NHPI languages. Partners found a lack of reference tools for those working with people who do not speak English very well, or at all, to provide concise and accessible definitions.
“Our Health Justice Network Covered California Navigator partners are experienced, trained, and ready to continue enrolling, renewing, and providing troubleshooting support for our community members,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice – LA). “Our team is providing in-person and phone support in over 30 AA and HNPI languages. Community members can walk in to or call any of our 23 Navigator partners across the state for enrollment support.” Navigator contact information available here: http://bit.ly/EnrollmentNavigators
“During the last two enrollment periods, we have seen many language access problems faced by our communities,” explains Doreena Wong, project director of Health Access at Advancing Justice – LA, a member of AHJ and HJN. “As we enter into this third Open Enrollment Period, we will be closely monitoring the effectiveness of the marketplaces to ensure that our communities, especially our limited-English community members, have access to health coverage for their families and exploring possible enforcement options, such as filing administrative complaints, if needed.”
“As the only national coalition focusing on health care outreach for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, the work AHJ does is critical,” said Kathy Ko Chin, president and CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, a member of AHJ. “Our partners on the ground have the ability to reach those most in need, who would otherwise be left out of enrollment efforts due to language barriers. We are committed to reaching as many communities as possible this year.”
“Our member health center patients have greatly benefited from in-language tools like the glossary and ‘Coverage to Care’ toolkit translated by our partners,” said Jeffrey Caballero, executive director of the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO), a member of AHJ. “Without improved support for enrollment assisters and in-language resources like these, health center patients and other Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders continue to be at a disadvantage.”
In order to increase the effectiveness of in-person, in-language enrollment assistance, AHJ and HJN published a glossary of current commonly used health care terms. For more information about the glossary available in English and 12 Asian and Pacific Islander languages, visit http://bit.ly/AHJ-glossary.
Further resources from AHJ and HJN partners can be found on AAPCHO’s and Advancing Justice – LA’s websites, including translated materials and infographics. The “From Coverage to Care” toolkit mentioned above is available on the Marketplace website.
In the upcoming enrollment period, AHJ and HJN will continue leveraging the expertise of navigators and community-based organizations who employ multilingual assistors to help with outreach, education and enrollment efforts across the country.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles is the nation’s largest Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) legal and civil rights organization and serves more than 15,000 individuals and organizations every year. Founded in 1983 as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Advancing Justice – LA’s mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society. Through direct legal services, impact litigation, policy analysis and advocacy, leadership development and capacity building, Advancing Justice – LA seeks to serve the most vulnerable members of the AANHPI community while also building a strong AANHPI voice for civil rights and social justice.