Do Asians Have it All?
Community’s Healthcare Challenges say NO.

Photo credit – New York Times


A recent article by the New York Times talked about How Asians Became the Most Vaccinated Group in New York City. The spotlight was on the success of community grassroots organizations in their outreach tactics, compelling, supporting, and guiding 68% of New York City’s adult Asian population to receive at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Overcoming language barriers and poor resources, these missions, run mainly by young Asian volunteers, prevailed.

Happy ending, right? Not really.

It reveals a significant problem of how the Asian community lacks access to general healthcare resources. The questions we must ask –

Why did we rely on volunteers to drive this healthcare initiative?

Where were the healthcare and pharmaceutical brands in this process?

This negligence of the healthcare needs of Asian Americans is not solely limited to COVID-19. It penetrates various facets of the industry, from clinical trials to access to mental health aid.

Asian Americans’ seeming success and the model-minority myth we carry on our backs – affluent, educated, digital savvy, bilingual – have created a false impression that Asians have it all, and overshadows a more nuanced story. In an NPR article written earlier this year, “Ideas like this can lead to a general disinterest in funding research on Asians. Federal research dollars dedicated to studying the Asian American community are conspicuously anemic. From 1992 to 2018, only 0.17% of the National Institutes of Health’s budget went to studying Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Americans.”

This lack of information available to the healthcare industry perpetuates the narrative that there is no problem. But here is the reality – with over 20+ ethnicities and 57% of the population foreign-born, Asian Americans are ethnically, culturally, economically and linguistically diverse, and face a diverse array of healthcare challenges.

According to Pew Research, 62% of the foreign-born Asians fall under the generations of Gen X, Boomers, and Silent Greatest, a much higher percentage compared with U.S.-born Asians. They tend to have lower English proficiency and are more vulnerable to health risks by the nature of their age.

Despite doing well on economic indicators overall, income varies widely among different Asian ethnicities, as do poverty rates. At the same time, while the young Asians are advanced in digital connection, Asian seniors still heavily rely on in-language speaking physicians, local Asian pharmacies, and community word-of-mouth for healthcare information.

In addition, there is an extensive variety of healthcare needs and conditions. At a macro level, cancer is the number one cause of death among Asian Americans, followed by heart diseases. But as we dive deeper within the critical Asian ethnicities by size, the incidence of diseases varies.

Liver cancer and head and neck cancer are more common in U.S.-born Chinese Americans. In contrast, cancers like breast, colon, and prostate have increased in foreign-born Chinese American immigrants.

South Asians have a higher risk of heart disease than other Asian groups, especially East Asians from China, Japan and Korea and are more likely to die from heart disease than the general population.

The leading causes of death among Filipino Americans are heart diseases, malignant neoplasms, cerebrovascular disease (e.g., stroke) and pneumonia.

Looking through these stats, underlying cultural, dietary, and biological factors contribute to the development of these diseases. This is precisely why generalizing Asian Americans is false and hinders healthcare and pharmaceutical brands from understanding their diverse needs, missing an engagement opportunity. To help the Asian community improve their healthcare access, there is an opening for brands to come and play an essential role in understanding this audience group, educating and engaging the community through the platforms, cultural content, and local organizations that they are accustomed to.

We understand this may be a daunting task that pulls people out of their comfort zone. But it is a necessary one. People’s health can’t wait.



Selina Guo
Strategy Planning Director

ADMERASIA’s winning spot, INVISIBLE, shows why it is time to tell better stories about Asian Americans. Take the pledge. Visit to know more.

Join the fight to #StopAsianHate. Visit to learn how you can help make a real difference.

159 W 25th, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10001, United States


Underrepresented, Labeled, and Overlooked: Navigating Asian America Today.


In 1968, two California graduate students, Emma Gee and Yuji Ichioka, created the term “Asian American.” The term was meant to unite a population that seemed so different from one another yet shared so much experience during a tumultuous era of U.S. history. That unification had positive results, creating one strong voice out of millions of individuals.  

In 2021, the term still serves the public well. It was used during the rise of hate crimes such as the #StopAAPIHate movement. And it is used when demanding representation in Hollywood and other industries. Asian American, to many of us, means “it does not matter that you are Korean or Filipino or Pakistani – we are one.” And as one, nothing is impossible. Today, this collective power is no less than a force challenging the socio-cultural narrative and underlying biases plaguing our society. It will also continue to serve as a clarion call reinforcing the potential and promise of the Asian American segment.  

But with every good turn is a consequence. “Asian American” connotes a vast monolith that maintains ignorance of our diversity, lumping tens of millions into one group. Historically, it has been applied only in the context of East Asians and, although the term should include other regions, has often lacked South and Southeast Asian representation. And it sometimes claims Pacific and Hawaiian Islanders who maintain mixed feelings about this label. 

To counter this umbrella term, over the years many amalgamations with their own sets of initials have been created. Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI), Asian Pacific Hawaiian (APH), and more attempt to add nuance to this discussion. But, in turn, they too carry their own burdens — hesitancy, being one of them, as to which to use. Yet, to dismiss concerns and use the default “Asian American” moniker, brands and other entities run the risk of offending its audience.  

There is no clear-cut answer. Choosing the right language for the right occasion can be a daunting experience but this experience must be undertaken by those that wish to navigate this growing and evolving territory. It takes work, listening, and learning to succeed in making authentic connections. 

We have prepared a peek into the market of Asians in the U.S. to communicate the vastness that it entails. However, understand that this is just the beginning. We invite you to take the first step. Please feel free to reach out to us at if you’d like to get insights broken down by different Asian ethnicities and answers to how brands can effectively engage with this segment. 


Jeff Lin
Racism Is Contagious by ADMERASIA – a platform that provides consolidated, impactful tools to combat the spread of hate crimes against the Asian American community. Visit to learn more.[R]EVOLUTION by ADMERASIA – a platform that connects brands with Asian American innovators and gamechangers rewriting the rules for social advocacy, content creation and entertainment. Visit to know more.