Community-Based Approach to Affordable Care Act Outreach to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Objective: To disseminate culturally-appropriate information about the Affordable Care Act to the local Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community

Description: Special Service for Groups (SSG) has been following and working with the California Health Benefit Exchange to prepare itself for the roll out of the Affordable Care Act. One of the ways SSG is providing information about Medicaid is through the use of local ethnic television programs which are very popular. Using local ethnic media gives them the opportunity to disseminate information to a large audience that would not be possible through direct contact. They also translate and disseminate printed materials that can be used by counselors and staff during individual sessions.

Covered California is translating health exchange and Medicaid materials into 13 major Asian languages. Once the translation is completed, SSG will print and disseminate the information to the community. Unfortunately, languages representing smaller populations, such as certain South Asian or Pacific Islander languages, will not be translated.

SSG will utilize paid staff, volunteers, consumers, and family members to disseminate information on health insurance and Medicaid benefits. The primary audience will be low income uninsured, underinsured, and linguistically and socially isolated groups. The specific strategies include using current direct services, translation of materials (especially the less utilized Asian languages), use of ethnic media, cultural events and health fairs, providing transportation, and other community events held at SSG, faith-based organizations, schools, community centers, and health clinics. SSG believes that the most effective strategy is working directly on site because of the trust established with staff who are seen as a legitimate sources of reliable information. They feel the least effective strategy is social media, as most of their clients are not comfortable with this form of communication.

Population of Focus: Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, Immigrant, Limited English Proficient, Adults, Children, Transition aged youth, Elderly

Setting: Community health center, Faith-based organization, Media

Level of Intervention: Individual, Family, Community

Background: Special Service for Groups (SSG) had its beginnings in the early 50’s and has continued to change and grow over the years. It is currently located in Los Angeles, California and focuses on providing community-based solutions to social and economic issues facing those in greatest need. It provides services in the area of mental health, substance use, youth and elder, consumer empowerment, health literacy, and advocacy for youth, children, families, adults, and elders. In 2012, SSG served approximately 6,000 APIs of whom approximately 4,500 were Medicaid eligible. They provide services in Khmer, Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, Illocano, Visaiyan, Igarot, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Samoan, Taiwanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Armenian, and Farsi. Currently 65% of SSG clients are Medicaid eligible, 1% is CHIP eligible, 65% have health insurance, and 35% have no insurance coverage. SSG is considering making referrals to a third party that specialize in enrolling people in the health insurance market place. However, like many community based organizations, SSG is struggling with funding to build the infrastructure to respond to the changes that are coming.


Dianna Malak Lopez
Director of Strategic Development
Special Service for Groups
605 W Olympic Blvd Suite 600. Los Angeles, CA 90015