For immediate release

October 11, 2012

Washington, D.C. – A new report by the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) analyzes the challenges that Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) small business owners face in providing health insurance coverage for themselves and their employees, and the numerous opportunities available under the new Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Asian Americans account for over 1.5 million minority-owned businesses, represent nearly 6 percent of all U.S. businesses and employ close to 3 million people. Research indicates, however, that there is a correlation between small business ownership and uninsurance, effectively limiting the ability of these employers and employees to access routine, quality, and affordable health care.
“Like many of their small-business counterparts of other races, AA and NHPI small business owners face distinct barriers to accessing coverage,” said Kathy Lim Ko, APIAHF president and CEO. “Our report—the first focused solely on AA and NHPI small business owners—provides a clear profile of the demographic makeup of these businesses, their needs and opportunities available under the Affordable Care Act.”

The report found three major areas of concern for AA and NHPI small businesses and provides concrete recommendations for policy makers:

  • Challenges for self-employed businesses: While the ACA will make health insurance coverage more accessible and affordable through small business online marketplaces and small business tax credits, many AA and NHPI small business owners will not qualify for these coverage options because they are either self-employed or have no paid employees. These eligibility restrictions are particularly concerning as self-employment as contractors, consultants, and independent agents continues to climb in the AA and NHPI business community. Health reform implementation must include alternative methods of coverage as well as strategies for small business owners to obtain individual-based coverage through the Exchanges.

  • Language barriers: Because a significant number of Asian Americans speak English less than very well or not at all, many—including small business owners—have traditionally had problems shopping for and enrolling in health coverage. Health reform outreach efforts must be conducted in a culturally and linguistically accessible manner to maximize enrollment of minority-owned businesses.

  • Immigration-based barriers: The coverage options available under health reform rely on a myriad of rules and immigration-based restrictions that will complicate enrollment for AA and NHPIs, many of whom live in mixed-immigration status households. Outreach will be key to ensuring these communities are able to enroll in the coverage they are eligible for.

“As chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) and a member of the House Small Business Committee, I welcome this timely report,” said Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32). “It is imperative that we work together with minority-owned small businesses to ensure that they understand all of their coverage options under the Affordable Care Act and the benefits these reforms have on their day to day operations.”

California has the largest number of Asian-owned businesses, with over half a million in the state, and some of the highest numbers of businesses owned by NHPIs. APIAHF was recently funded by the Blue Shield of California Foundation to analyze access barriers including affordability, immigration status and language and culture among AA and NHPI small businesses in California. Over the next year, APIAHF will provide timely analysis and policy solutions to help expand coverage for California’s small businesses and support the work of California’s health reform implementation efforts.

Read the full report Opportunities and Challenges in the Affordable Care Act for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Small Businesses here.