We asked our partners to provide some stories about the impact of the Affordable Care Act on their communities. Here is what we learned:
Chork Nim, Families in Good Health at St. Mary’s Medical Center:
I had a Khmer (Cambodian) speaking husband and wife come into the center. The wife is 65 and the husband is in his 70s. They both moved to California from Louisiana and don’t have health insurance. They have been living in the United States for ten years, and in those ten years they never once went to a clinic to get check-ups for their health. They lived with their son but moved to California specifically to get health insurance — to get help because they were getting older and needed help.
I first started helping them with getting Medi-Cal coverage. I helped them apply through the Covered California application portal. After a few weeks, they were covered. Then I navigated them to care through the INC, or Integrated Network for Cambodians (integrated behavioral, physical and substance abuse services to Cambodians of all ages with a geographical focus in the Long Beach area).
Mental health is taboo in the Cambodian community. You slowly work with them. You slowly educate them. You can’t work on mental health until you help them with getting health insurance, until you build that trust first. On average it takes three months to a year and a half for me to help my clients get established.
After helping them get health insurance, I personally took them to their health check-up at a clinic. They are now in INC. They are getting help, mentally and physically. They are good. They are happy.
They were just so happy to get covered.
Davisna Oum, United Cambodian Community:
A gentleman in his 60’s came to UCC having questions about “Obamacare,” also known as Covered California. He didn’t know what it was about or how to sign up, but he knew he had to sign up for health insurance or face a tax penalty. So we sat down one-on-one for about an hour, going through the whole process of enrollment. While filling out his application, he began to tell me more about himself.
He came to the U.S. due to the genocide. This means he likely arrived in the 1970s or 1980s and had gone without health insurance for 30-40 years. He told me he worked all his life as a carpenter/handyman and never had health insurance. All the aches and pains from his back and shoulders from many years of labor were taking a toll on him. He had never once gotten a medical check-up since he has been in the U.S. and instead chose to work through the pain. As soon as I told him that he is eligible for Medi-Cal, he was overcome with joy. He never expected to qualify because he did not know. He was very appreciative of the service we provided to him on that day. He left gaining more than knowledge but also the security that health insurance provides. Now he can finally get that much needed check-up.