Hula, lomilomi, and ʻai pono, or native Hawaiian food, are now covered by a local health plan.
Kealoha Fox, senior manager of social health integration at AlohaCare, says the Ke Aloha Mau Program uses traditional, cultural and spiritual approaches to health and healing. All services are provided at no cost to members.
“Finally, right? Finally, there’s a local organization that sees this as a benefit to our health. We know that making sure that we have services like Native Hawaiian Healing Services accessible to our communities is a great investment not only for our Native Hawaiian members, but all members from all of the Hawaiian Islands,” Fox told HPR.
AlohaCare provides health care coverage to Hawaiʻi’s Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries.
Francoise Culley-Trotman, CEO of AlohaCare, says the pandemic made it really hard to ignore health equity issues and the need for culturally responsive services.
“It has been proven that if we are successful in creating and delivering culturally responsive services, it really improves our ability to successfully engage with individuals and help them make their health and health care decisions, and that ultimately affects the results, doesn’t it?” Culley-Trotman said.
Culley-Trotman says developing sustainable solutions like the Ke Aloha Mau Program takes time and a bit more resources, but it’s achievable and worthwhile.
“I think the evidence exists to support reducing disparities, reducing overall health care costs, etc. These services have been around for centuries, we know that. And their value has been proven for centuries. I think the new is that health plans don’t usually cover these types of services,” she said.
Open enrollment begins in October. For more information, visit AlohaCare.org.