Marking Two Years of the Affordable Care Act and its Impact on the AAPI Community

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In commemoration of the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary of health for the Department of Health and Human Services, wrote a blog post for for the White House's website highlighting the Act's benefits for AAPIs across the country.

"The Affordable Care Act provides hard working, middle-class families the security they deserve," he wrote. "The new health care law forces insurance companies to play by the rules, prohibiting them from dropping your coverage if you get sick or lose your job, billing you into bankruptcy through annual or lifetime limits, and, soon, discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition."

The Affordable Care Act has expanded access to free preventive services, including mammograms and other cancer screenings, to 2.7 million Asian Americans in 2011, and requires insurers to cover preventive care for children so families do not have to pay for services such as flu shots and well-child visits. To date, more than half a million Asian Americans with Medicare have received one or more free preventive services.

The law also allows young adults to remain on their parent's insurance plan up to age 26, addressing the fact that young adults are least likely to have health insurance. As a result, over 2.5 million young adults have gained coverage thanks to the act, including 97,000 Asian Americans.

The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits, freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. Approximately 5.5 million AAPIs out of a total of 105 million Americans no longer have to worry about lifetime limits thanks to the law.

And in what Dr. Koh calls a groundbreaking development, the law improved standards for collecting and reporting data so that researchers can better identify disparities among Asian, Hispanic/Latino and Pacific Islander populations. For the first time, when national health surveys ask, “What is your race?” our community will have more subcategories from which to choose, making sure that the data on AAPI communities accurately reflect specific needs.

Finally, the Affordable Care Act benefits AAPIs by requiring insurers to use plain language in describing health plan benefits and coverage.

The Department of Health and Human Services continues to build on the Affordable Care Act, tackling the unique health care and human services disparities affecting the AAPI communities. The department is addressing special challenges for our populations, including hepatitis B-related disease, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and infant mortality.

"As we mark the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, these investments are an example of the Administration’s continued commitment to the future of the AAPI community," Koh wrote. "We are making critical progress toward achieving our collective goal of reducing, and eventually eliminating, health care disparities, and improving the health and well being of the AAPI community, and for all Americans."

Read Dr. Koh's entire blog post here.