The student videos hope to make enrolling in Medicare less daunting for Hawaiʻi kūpuna.

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa social work and public health students in the Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health combined their creativity and expertise in health systems to produce new videos that explain how to enroll in Medicare in five languages commonly spoken in Hawaiʻi. The project is a partnership with the Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH).

Students in the course created videos that explain the major programs within Medicare and answer common questions in English, Tagalog, Korean, Vietnamese and Cantonese. The videos also provide important phone numbers for people who may need more information.

“We wanted to reach out to our community members who have difficulty accessing health care because of language barriers,” said student Debbie Drummondo, who created the Tagalog video when she took the course.

“Speaking a language other than English often presents a barrier to enrolling in Medicare and may prevent people from getting the health care they need,” said Seunghye Hong, associate professor of social work, who co-designed the course with Victoria Fan, interim director of the UH Center on Aging.

Helping kūpuna

The videos aim to bring in language information and cultural sensitivity to the topic of Medicare eligibility and enrollment. They explain what health care services are covered by Medicare and the advantages offered by certain parts of Medicare, such as Part D, which covers prescription drugs. In one video, information about Medicare Part B is shown in Korean jamo (letters) over a background of Korean food. In another, information about copayments and coinsurance is explained in Tagalog.

By presenting the information in these languages, the students hope to make enrolling in Medicare less daunting for Hawaiʻi kūpuna (older adults). The videos are posted on the YouTube channel of the Hawaiʻi State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).

“We receive thousands of calls each year from people who don’t understand Medicare coverage, and these videos made by the students can help increase awareness of Medicare,” said Wanda Anae-Onishi, director of Hawaiʻi SHIP in the Executive Office on Aging, an attached agency of DOH.

“With the knowledge they gained, our talented UH students are empowered to help our kūpuna to enroll in and access Medicare,” Fan said. “These videos are just one way our students are working creatively to reduce barriers for health care access in Hawaiʻi.”

Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment Period ends on December 7. To get free unbiased help to enroll in and navigate Medicare, call (808) 586-7299 or visit DOH’s Hawaiʻi SHIP website.

View other videos in Tagalog, Korean, Vietnamese and Cantonese.

This work is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Enhancing Student Success (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.