This summer, here at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, we’ve had the pleasure of working with ten talented interns.
As a staff member specializing in health policy, I was especially excited to hear that many of the interns were passionate about health and health care access for our community. Interns shared stories about the value of health in their families, and the difficulties some of their loved ones faced when attempting to access care. I heard about the importance of neighborhood community health centers, which tend to provide the cultural and linguistic sensitivity needed to effectively care for our communities.
These stories especially caught my attention because enrollment in the new Health Insurance Marketplace is beginning soon on October 1, 2013. It’s now more important than ever for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) to understand how to access health care and how the Affordable Care Act impacts the AAPI community. With so many students in the office, it became evident how critical it is for AAPI youth to be informed as well. Many youth do not feel that health insurance is important, yet are unaware of the potential high costs of medical care. Additionally, many AAPI youth are bilingual and are key to ensuring their family members, who may have limited English proficiency, understand how to access health care.
Seeing this need for youth to get involved and using their experience working with student groups, the interns developed Health Engaged Youth (HEY!). Teaming up with the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, and the White House Initiative on Historically Black College and Universities, HEY! engages youth about the opportunities to get enrolled and covered through the Health Insurance Marketplace. HEY! also empowers youth to serve as HEY! Ambassadors and spread the word about health insurance coverage to their peers, family, and community. Through these passionate young leaders, we can work together to ensure our community has access to affordable health care.
Kate Moraras, serves as Senior Advisor in the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.