Marlena Vaifale understands the importance of having health insurance. In 2013, she was diagnosed with pre-diabetes and gallstones, which led to the removal of her gallbladder. She has had health insurance all her life, but did not take full advantage of the preventive services available to her for annual physicals. If she had, she would have made wiser and healthier choices. Now that Marlena knows the importance of being covered, she wants others in her community to access high quality, affordable health insurance through provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) community Marlena serves consists of Native Hawaiians who are US citizens; US nationals who are citizens of American Samoa and Guam; immigrants from independent South Pacific nations such as Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti and Tonga; and citizens from the Compact of Free Association (COFA) sovereign states, which includes the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau. There are 1.2 million NHPIs living in the United States1, yet the health insurance coverage rates for NHPIs are lower than rates for most other racial and ethnic groups in the United States. In fact, in 2008, one in four NHPIs (24.3%) under the age of 65 was uninsured.2
“There are many barriers that NHPI communities face when applying for health coverage such as socioeconomic, environmental, immigration, linguistic and cultural factors,” said Vaifale. “Respecting and understanding these barriers encourages positive and effective collaboration between community-based organizations (CBOs), faith-based organizations (FBOs), Certified Enrollment Counselors (CECs) and NHPI consumers. In particular, understanding the importance of culturally and linguistically competent Affordable Care Act educators and enrollment counselors is crucial to increasing NHPI enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace.”
As a Certified Educator and CEC, Vaifale educates hundreds of consumers about health insurance and assists them in enrolling in health care coverage. She has found that reaching out to the NHPI community in-language and in-person builds their trust of CBO navigators, educators and enrollment counselors through in-language and in-person outreach. This method has been the most effective she’s used to increase NHPI enrollment in health care coverage.
“I am very pleased that the ACA has given consumers the tools to obtain affordable, high quality health care coverage. Continuous culturally and linguistically competent outreach efforts and positive collaboration among the NHPI community, CBOs and FBOs increases the trust of NHPI consumers, which is critical for increasing NPHI enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace,” said Vaifale.
Register for the following SAMHSA webinars to learn more about ACA outreach and enrollment in American Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities:
July 23, 2014 | 4:00 – 5:00pm Eastern Time
This blog is part of a series of webinars, infographics, and blog posts that aim to provide clear information about the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
U.S. Census Bureau. (2012). The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Population: 2010. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-12.pdf.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health. (2012). HHS Plan for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Health. Retrieved from http://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?ID=8806&lvl=3&lvlid=573.