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Report Exposes Health Coverage Gap Across Asian-American Seniors

A new AARP report finds that among all Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) 50 years and older, up to 20 percent lack health insurance due to cost concerns. But the organization says because of the diversity within the community, coverage rates vary widely across ethnicities.

Among Japanese Americans, for example, 96 percent have coverage; Filipinos are at 90 percent. But among Korean Americans, up to 75 percent do not have coverage.

“As with other areas, the data on health insurance show that AAPIs cannot be considered as one monolithic group,” AARP states in this, it’s third and final report on AAPI seniors.

According to the report, more established groups like Chinese Americans and Filipino Americans are largely employed and have access to insurance through work. Smaller and more-recently immigrated AAPI groups have larger numbers of self-employed and often find insurance unaffordable. High poverty levels among those 65 and up can also make insurance too costly.

The report exposes how cultural differences within the broader AAPI community lead to a range of access problems. Lack of language proficiency, lack of familiarity with the health care system, isolation, and lack of transportation all contribute to substandard health care experiences for AAPI seniors.

“By working with other organizations and individuals, we strive to close the gaps in knowledge of and service to our communities,” said Daphne Kwok, AARP Vice President of Multicultural Markets and Engagement for the Asian American and Pacific Islander Audience.

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