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Monday, July 30, 2012

Chicago Orgs Kick off Project to Educate Asian Americans About the ACA

There remains considerable misinformation and ignorance about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) among limited English-speaking Asian Americans and other immigrant groups regarding ACA and how it will impact them. Provisions of the health care reform law that are already in effect (children covered by parents’ insurance up to age 26, insurance companies prohibited from placing a lifetime limit on essential benefits) are unknown to most immigrant groups. 

Key provisions of the law that will have a major impact on uninsured immigrant populations, such as the affordable health insurance exchanges, will not have their desired effect unless the target population understands how these provisions apply to them and how to make the right choices for the health care coverage they need.

Through small employer tax credits and other provisions, the Affordable Care Act will also have a significant impact on small business owners which represent a major portion of the economy and life in ethnic neighborhoods such as Albany Park, Uptown, Rogers Park, and Chinatown. However, many of these ethnic business owners are linguistically isolated or inherently distrustful of government stemming from experiences in their countries of origin. They do not understand or are wary of government programs. Such linguistic and cultural barriers present an important challenge to the implementation of the ACA as 2014 draws near, and will impact the health of the vulnerable Asian immigrant and refugee population, in the Chicago metropolitan area.

In response to the lack of knowledge around the ACA, the Asian Health Coalition (AHC) and Health & Disability Advocates (HDA) have embarked on a project (with generous funding from the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust): “Stay Informed!: Education on Health Reform” to provide culturally and linguistically tailored outreach and technical assistance on health reform to the Asian immigrant and refugee communities in the Chicago area. The target audiences for Stay Informed! are Asian community members and small business owners (SBOs).

The goal of Stay Informed! is to provide culturally competent education and outreach on the Affordable Care Act for linguistically isolated and disenfranchised Asian immigrant and refugee consumers and SBOs to enhance understanding of and participation in health care reform. Toward that end, we have created fact sheets and presentations in English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Khmer. Materials in additional languages will become available over the coming months

We have already conducted trainings at the Cambodian Association of Illinois and Chinese Mutual Aid Association and received many good questions from attendees about the Affordable Care Act. Please don't hesitate to use our fact sheets to educate your own communities and contact either of us with any questions.

Edwin Chandrasekar
Executive Director
Asian Health Coalition

Stephani Becker
Project Director
Health & Disability Advocates

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