Fil-Am groups prepare for "Obamacare"

by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America bureau

September 26, 2013

LOS ANGELES – The clock is ticking for the healthcare overhaul to take effect in California.

By January, under the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured must have health coverage otherwise they face penalties. The application process begins on October 1.

According to non-profit advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice, as many as six million Californians will benefit from the Affordable Care Act. About 600,000 Asian Americans are believed to be eligible to be insured through mandated employer provided benefits or through low cost government sponsored insurance.

While California is home to the most Filipinos, 14 percent remain uninsured.

“People can actually start applying, coverage won’t start until Janurary first 2014 but they can actually go online, get covered so they know that they can get a health insurance,” said Doreena Wong of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

29-year-old Alex Montances is too old to be under his parents insurance and works two part time jobs, both for community non-profit groups that do not give him benefits.

As a grad student, he gets by through his school’s health clinic as he tries to stay healthy.

For Montances, the thoughts of mandated discount health care are both a relief and a worry. “I hope it’s still actually affordable I’m just barely making my bills so I’m hoping that even if it’s the cheapest insurance they have out there I’m hoping that it doesn’t put me over the top and I’m not even able to make my bills or rent. I hope it’s cheap enough and accessible to our community even if it’s for 20-something year olds like me who have been without insurance for a couple years now,” said Montances.

Filipino community groups, like the one Montances works for, are gearing up for the release of the application scheduled in October.

“Kailangan malaman ng kababayan natin ang covered. May programa para sa API, Asian Pacific Islander, para sa lahat ng health insurance affordable na,” said Susan Dilkes of the Filipino American Service Group Inc.

Filipino Migrant Center Tony Dorono added, “A lot of our undocumented has never seen a doctor because they are undocumented they are afraid to go out there. That’s why this is organized in order to get to these people we have in our community, in order to avail themselves of services”.

While health advocates are hoping to see the number of uninsured drop, some people are expected to fall through the cracks such as the undocumented and the incarcerated. Also, if the cost of the public health coverage is 9.5 more than a person’s income, they may not be eligible to take part in the overhaul.

Dorono believes while more uninsured can eventually find health care community groups can give more focus on the health needs of the undocumented.

For more information, you may contact Steve Angeles at

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  • Kikay Pang0
    26 September 2013 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    Dump TFC channel for good health care coverage…. forget BA….. they’re scavenging their headline news most of the time .