Filipino Families Unaware of Affordable Care Act

Originally published by New American Media, this article was written by Fi2W reporter Cristina Pastor.

Of approximately 230,000 Asian American children in the metropolitan New York area, about 13 percent, or 30,000, are Filipino American. FilAm children in New York have a high insurance coverage rate, said Noilyn Abesamis‐Mendoza of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families.

Filipinos have the lowest rate of uninsurance at 3 percent along with Pakistani children. Korean children have the highest rate at 10 percent followed by the Bangladeshis and the Japanese at 7 percent each, according to the study.

The data may be encouraging, but the ideal condition is one where no child is left behind in the coverage, she said.

“We shouldn’t have this 3 percent,” said Abesamis‐Mendoza, who is FilAm. “It should be zero percent for all Asian American children.”

A study by the Asian American Federation titled “Asian Americans in New York City: A Decade of Dynamic Change 2000-2010,” found that 68 percent of Filipino children are covered by private insurance and 30 percent by public insurance.

The high insurance coverage of Filipino children is a clear reflection of the socio-economic status of Filipino American families, Abesamis‐Mendoza said in an interview with The FilAm. Privately insured children are likely to have parents or caregivers with employer-sponsored insurance courtesy of companies that can afford them. Children who are publicly insured through Medicaid or Child Health Plus, are likely to have parents who are low-wage earners, such as domestic workers or those in the restaurant or service industries. Some of them may not know how to navigate the health care system and need to have a better understanding of how it works.

“Maybe the parents are recently arrived or they’re in jobs that don’t really, fully match their skills,” she explained. In New York, many Filipinos have established themselves professionally as they have been around for many generations, she said.

Like many privately insured parents, single mother Samantha Bernardo is pleased with her health insurance plan. The Affordable Care Act, she said, will probably not apply to her.

“We have premium benefits, which cover dependents,” said Bernardo, who works for a Manhattan hospital.

She and her 5-year-old son get full medical-and-dental coverage under the company’s generous policy and her only out-of-pocket fee is a co-pay of $15.

“My insurance covers in and out of network,” she said, meaning it will pick up the tab for providers that do not belong to a list of accredited doctors. Her son is a healthy boy and has always had “a clean bill of health” from her doctors.

Like some Filipino parents in New York, she is “not that aware” of ACA. “To be quite honest with you I’m not that well versed,” she said.

Keep reading this article on The FilAm.

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation and the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation.

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AboutCristina DC Pastor
Cristina DC Pastor, a former Fi2W Business and Economics Reporting fellow, is the publisher and editor of The FilAm ( Her book, “Scratch the News: Filipino Americans in Our Midst” (Inkwater, 2005), is a celebration of ordinary citizens at the center of extraordinary stories. She is a graduate of The New School.