I’m insured, now what? Health literacy for New Americans

Becoming health insurance literate is difficult for anyone who hasn’t had insurance in the past but can be especially difficult for new immigrants who aren’t used to the American health care system with deductibles, co-pays, networks, etc. Panels will speak about best practices around the country for helping immigrant families navigate the system, use their new insurance coverage and stay insured. They will also discuss what health literacy tools/resources work best for different immigrant populations. Speakers:

  • Bonnie Kwon, ACA Program Manager, Asian & Pacific Islander Health Forum -- Bonnie Kwon, JD, is the ACA program manager for the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF). Prior to working at APIAHF, Bonnie served as the program director for the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United where she oversaw workers’ rights education and outreach campaigns to promote healthy workspaces, increase minimum wages, paid sick days and antidiscrimination. She also founded the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Washington DC affiliate. Bonnie has also worked with immigrant women and their families at legal aid organizations.
  • Alicia Fernandez, MD: UCSF School of Medicine, Professor -- Alicia Fernandez, M.D., is a Professor of Clinical Medicine at UCSF and an attending physician in the General Medical Clinic and the Medical Wards at San Francisco General Hospital. Her research primarily focuses on health and health care disparities, and she is particularly interested in vulnerable populations, Latino health, immigrant health, and language barriers.
  • Paul Costigan: Vice President Program Development & Quality Assurance, International Institute (St. Louis) -- Paul Costigan, MA has worked at the International Institute of St. Louis since 1999. Currently he serves as Director of Program Development & Quality Assurance which is responsible for ensuring compliance with grants, developing procedures, providing funder reports, programmatic grant writing and conducting staff training. He is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, having served in Slovakia from 1995-1997.
  • Julie Silas, Senior Policy Analyst, Consumer's Union -- Julie Silas, JD, is a Senior Policy Analyst at the West Coast Office of Consumers Union, the advocacy and policy division of Consumer Reports. Ms. Silas is a lawyer and researcher with more than twenty years’ experience in health advocacy. She works on health care policy development with Covered California and the Department of Health Care Services (CA Medicaid), particularly on eligibility and enrollment, standard benefit design, and the consumer experience.
  • Steven Larson, MD: Executive Director, Puentes de Salud -- Steven Larson, MD, is a cofounder and the Executive Director of Puentes de Salud and assistant dean for Global Health Programs and an associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Larson has developed an extensive working knowledge of the health care issues facing immigrant populations in the United States. In 2003, recognizing the rapid growth of an urbanized, undocumented Latino population, Dr. Larson and his colleagues initiated work to establish Puentes de Salud.
  • Hector De La Torre is the Executive Director of the Transamerica Center for Health Studies, a nonprofit focused on helping consumers and businesses navigate the health care landscape. De La Torre was chosen to lead this new initiative because of his private and public sector experience, particularly his leadership role on health care and advocating for consumers and businesses. Among his accomplishments as an elected official were expanding access to doctors in underserved communities, consumer protections against retroactive cancellation of health insurance, and supporting facilities improvements at Children’s Hospitals. De La Torre is also a member of the Board of Trustees at Occidental College in Los Angeles and serves on the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as a gubernatorial appointee. De La Torre served as a State Assemblymember for California’s 50th District from 2004-2010. Prior to that, he was Mayor and Councilmember in his hometown of South Gate. De La Torre was also a Manager at the County of Los Angeles Superior Court and served as Manager at Southern California Edison. Previous to those positions, he was Assistant/Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor. De La Torre has a bachelor’s degree in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College and attended the Elliot School of International Affairs at The George Washington University.