The Marshallese Community


Michelle and her husband are both covered by Medicaid insurance. They have both had positive experiences. Michelle shares that the “application was easy but you don’t sometimes get the follow-ups until you get the deactivated letters.”  She had to reapply after being told there was a “glitch in the system” and her coverage lapsed.  “I got really sick in the wintertime, I went to urgent care – they diagnosed me with a UTI.  I took [the medicine] for a week and I was getting worse.” Once her insurance was reactivated, Michelle was able to go to another clinic.  “[This] clinic said that a blood transfusion was needed. [They] did all the things that the other places – urgent care would not do.  I had anemia, that is what it was.”

When asked about her hopes for the future of Medicaid, Michelle shares “if we could contact our workers directly that would be great. Hire people that speak the language and are from the community. Hire a receptionist that is welcoming.”  Michelle also suggests making sure staff are updated on the most recent eligibility requirements as a way to improve the system.  Michelle hopes that everyone has consistent and quality access to healthcare so that they remain a strong and resilient community.


Participant’s name has been changed to uphold anonymity of personal identity.

Alyssa is a mother who says Medicaid has been helpful in assuring that her children have healthcare coverage. “If anything was to happen to them I would be devastated if I couldn’t afford the health expenses.”  Alyssa says that she was able to get Medicaid when she was pregnant with her 9 month old child, but it stopped soon after giving birth. Alyssa is Marshallese and up until February of 2021, she was ineligible to receive Medicaid with the exception of throughout pregnancy.

Medicaid has been helpful with her children in ensuring necessary immunizations and other treatments. “It certainly helps a lot, having not to worry about the children’s medical expenses.” Currently, Alyssa does not have any health coverage for herself, but recent legislative changes “gives me hope that I can apply for myself and procedures be covered.” Alyssa was able to receive birth control at no-cost  post-pregnancy but after her postpartum Medicaid coverage ended, she had to wait and save money in order to continue her treatment. “That’s one of the big issues we face is out of pocket expenses for meds and things like contraceptives.”

Alyssa has experienced some difficulties with her Medicaid when pregnant with her oldest son. She was receiving bills from her medical provider. She tried to contact Medicaid directly to get answers. “It took me a whole month to talk to someone but they said I did, then said I didn’t, then the phone disconnected.” She was never able to provide proof of coverage and still has the medical bills from that pregnancy to be paid off.

“The second time around, had to bring letters and proof that I was covered under Medicaid.. I really was making sure I had proof of coverage so the same thing wouldn’t happen.”

Alyssa plans to reapply for Medicaid due to the recent legislative changes. This will help to ensure that she can receive medical treatments without having to use her limited income for medical services. 


LR is currently not on Medicaid. She was informed that she and her family were ineligible for coverage because of her income.

“I’ve applied so many times for my kids to have it and they’ve rejected it so many times due to income.”

LR states that she was able to get health insurance through her employer for herself, husband, and children but “it takes about half of the paycheck.” She states that even if  it was just her children eligible for Medicaid that would benefit her family immensely. “It would help if they were on ARKids B so they wouldn’t have to deduct so much.” The cost of health insurance impacts LR’s ability to fully care for her family’s needs. LR is only paid once a month and her paycheck covers the cost of rent and care payments. By the middle of the month she is already broke. 

Although LR and her family are ineligible for Medicaid services, she is adamant about helping other members of the Marshallese community receive coverage. “I would say make it easier to apply.” LR knows there are challenges with community members having the proper identification needed for Medicaid. Some of her clients don’t have updated passports or I-94’s so they get rejected on the application. LR states that many people in her community need access to birth control, dental, vision, and mental health services. LR is thankful that recent legislative changes will help provide more Marshallese access to Medicaid coverage. 


Feiloaiga and her family are not current Medicaid recipients and do not have health insurance of any kind. Currently her family is in the process of trying to receive medical coverage through the Healthcare Marketplace. Although Feiloaiga’s family was recently denied Medicaid based on  income, she feels that it’s needed for the expenses of  her family of five. After paying for rent, bills, and the cost of food her family does not have much money left over. 

Not having medical coverage is very difficult for Feiloaiga, especially when it comes to her children. She has even had to postpone care for her children because of the financial burden that can result from it. “ I put it off, but my daughter was suffering so I went ahead and took her and paid for it. She had an ear infection and it was really hurting and in two days I took her to the doctor.”  There were numerous costs associated with seeking treatment for her daughter. “We paid 100 dollars for her to see the doctor and then we had to buy the ear drops and we had to pay 200 dollars.” Feiloaiga would pay any amount to ensure the safety and comfort of her child.

“We didn’t care the cost, because she had prom. But with the infection she couldn’t (attend).”  

This isn’t the first and only time that Feiloaiga has had to pay a large amount of money to seek medical care. “Every time we go to the doctor, have to pay 100 dollars.”  When her daughter got hurt at school playing sports, she had to pay out of pocket. “The school didn’t provide medical services even though she was hurt playing.” Her husband has also tried to avoid medical care due to the costs. This is difficult and at times dangerous  because he has a disability and diabetes.

Feiloaiga is looking forward to obtaining medical coverage through the Healthcare Marketplace so that her husband and children can access the appropriate care. She is also excited about her daughter attending college out of state this year. Feiloaiga wants to ensure that when her daughter moves, she will not have to worry about her daughter having medical coverage.


HD hasn’t had the best Medicaid experience. He was recently denied Medicaid. He recently stopped working and lost his job-based insurance. HD has had to postpone medical care due to his application being denied. He is thankful that his children and wife have been able to receive Medicaid coverage but is upset that he continues to have to push back his medical concerns due to his inability to afford the medical costs associated with treatment. 

This has been a stressful year for HD and his family because when he lost his job, his wife was the only one able to bring in money for the household. They waited to see if his unemployment application would be approved, but he was denied. He has reapplied but has not received any notice about the status of his unemployment claim. HD has now rejoined the workforce but is not able to get healthcare through his employer. This has been a difficult road for HD and he is in need of something to change so that he can take care of his health to the best of his ability. 


Liton and his wife are currently awaiting the decision of their Medicaid application. They have both never been recipients of Medicaid services but have been able to receive coverage through the Healthcare Marketplace.  Liton stated that something happened and their insurance was terminated. Soon after he applied for Medicaid and Medicare. Liton is hoping that he receives an answer before his upcoming doctor’s appointment because if it isn’t approved he isn’t sure what he will do. 

Liton understands the importance of Medicaid to low-income families. “I think it really helps and is good, especially for folks that are no or low-income… I see the importance and value of having insurance especially when it comes to medications. Medicaid is a positive impact.” Liton is appreciative of all the people who have pushed for Medicaid expansion for the Marshallese people. “I just want to thank everyone that has advocated for us. I’m very grateful for the support for the community.”