The Affordable Care Act and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

The Affordable Care Act will help make health insurance coverage more affordable and accessible for millions of Americans. For Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, like other racial and ethnic minorities, the law addresses inequities in access to quality, affordable health coverage. The Affordable Care Act invests in prevention and wellness, and gives individuals and families more control over their care.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are impacted by health and health care differently than the general population. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders tend to be less affected than other groups by certain cancers, but also are less likely to get screened for cancer. For example, in 2010, Asian American women over 18 years of age were least likely to have had a Pap test (68.0 percent) compared with other women: non-Hispanic white (72.8 percent), non-Hispanic black (77.4 percent), Hispanic/Latino (73.6 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native (73.4 percent). Additionally in 2008, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders ages 19 through 24 were 1.6 times more likely to have Hepatitis B than non-Hispanic whites [1]. Expanding opportunities for coverage can improve health outcomes for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Because of the  Affordable Care Act,  nearly 2 million uninsured Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have new opportunities  for affordable health insurance coverage.  The majority, or 8 out of 10 (1.9 million out of 2 million), of eligible uninsured Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders may qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or lower costs on monthly premiums through the Marketplace.

Although the annual enrollment period to get private coverage in the Marketplace is closed for 2014, enrollment in Medicaid and the CHIP is open year round.  26 states and Washington, D.C. have expanded Medicaid so far, with the federal government providing 100 percent of the funds for the “newly eligible” for the next three years, and never less than 90 percent after that. 

Millions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country are already benefiting from the stronger coverage and consumer protections made possible by the Affordable Care Act:

  • 4.3 million Asian Americans with private insurance now have access to expanded preventive services with no cost sharing. This includes services such as colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, flu shots for all children and adults, and many more.
  • Private plans in the Marketplace are required to cover 10 essential health benefit categories, including maternity and newborn care.  208,800 Asian Americans who currently buy coverage in the individual market will gain maternity coverage, as part of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for plans to cover essential health benefits.
  • An estimated 2.5 million Asian American women with private health insurance now have guaranteed access to women’s preventive services without cost sharing. These services include well-woman visits, HPV testing, counseling services, breastfeeding support, mammograms and screenings for cervical cancer, prenatal care, and other services.
  • 867,000 elderly and disabled Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who receive health coverage from Medicare also have access to many preventive services with no cost-sharing, including annual wellness visits with personalized prevention plans, diabetes and colorectal cancer screening, bone mass measurement and mammograms.
  • 121,000 Asian American young adults between ages 19 and 25 who would have been uninsured, including 53,000 Asian American women, now have coverage under their parent’s employer-sponsored or individually purchased health plan.
  • About 5.5 million Asian Americans, including 2.1 million adult Asian American women, no longer have lifetime limits on their health insurance plans thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
  • Major federal investments to improve quality of care are improving management of chronic diseases that are more prevalent among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
  • Investments in data collection and research will help us better understand the causes of health care disparities and develop effective programs to eliminate them.
  • Targeted interventions, such as Community Transformation Grants, will promote healthy lifestyles, lower health care costs, and reduce health disparities.
  • Increased funding available to the more than 1,100 community health centers will increase the number of patients served.  Health centers provide culturally competent and linguistically appropriate care.


Content last reviewed on July 15, 2014