Photo caption: A child helps advocate to protect Apple Health for Kids at Children’s Alliance’s 2011 Have a Heart for Kids Day near capitol steps. Photo credit: Jackey Lui.

Through the end of June, Washington state will make special efforts to reach young Asian and Pacific Islanders 19 and under to get qualified youth enrolled in the state insurance program Apple Health for Kids.

Outreach efforts will also be focused on the American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino populations that currently have lower levels of enrollment. According to the 2010 American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, 12 percent of the state’s 101,614 uninsured children are Asian and Pacific Islander, with 5 percent representing Pacific Islanders. Another 12 percent are Latino children, and 17 percent of the state’s uninsured children are Native Americans or Alaska Natives. In addition, about a third of uninsured children in Washington reside in Pierce, King, Yakima and Clark counties.

Research shows that language and cultural barriers are the top reasons for uninsured or under-insured API families, says Pardis Nkoy of Desautel Hege Communications, one of several partner agencies assisting with outreach efforts. What is specific about Washingon’s API population, Nkoy says, is that “some API ethnic groups are concentrated in specific areas and others are spread out.” This makes information about insurance options difficult to disseminate seamlessly.

“This is why we have focused on grassroots efforts to reach as many API audiences as possible, such as attending API cultural events and health fairs to distribute information and help people apply, leaving Apple Health for Kids materials and posters at community centers and API-related churches, and setting enrollment events,” says Nkoy.

The language barrier is also being tackled now that the effort has instituted translation assistance in more than 240 languages, including Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Hmong, Korean, Vietnamese and Tagalog.

“Apple Health for Kids provides families with the perfect way to save money, but still ensure quality health care for their children,” said Sabino (Ben) Cabildo of Community-Minded Enterprises. “Enrollment is seamless, and is made even easier for Asian and Pacific Islander families as phone interpreting for 240 languages is available to assist families.”

One of the other major barriers to getting insured is sheer cost. Nkoy notes that a family of four making $5,700 a month would likely qualify for Apple Health for Kids’ insurance subsidy. Partners assisting with these outreach efforts include Community-Minded Enterprises, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Yakima, Kauffman and Associates, Inc. and Desautel Hege Communications.

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