As healthcare in the United States increasingly becomes available to lower income and immigrant populations via the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans are removing barriers to eligibility and increasing benefits. As a result, they’re gaining millions of new customers and many of the new enrollees are recent immigrants with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).
In order to best serve the LEP population, health insurance plans are providing translated materials to new members to help them understand the terms, benefits, and details of their new health care plans. Forward looking plan providers are discovering that LEP members are loyal and profitable. Language access is a small expense that pays huge dividends.
A series of upcoming bills in California makes it the law to provide even more translation support:
- SB 388: Translating the Summary of Benefits of Coverage — This bill, sponsored by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), requires health insurance providers to provide a plan’s summary of benefits and coverage in non-English languages.
- SB 137: Provider Directories — Sponsored by CPEHN, Consumer’s Union, and Health Access, this bill requires accurate and updated provider directories for enrollee’s to use when selecting doctors and hospitals.
- AB 389: Hospital Language Assistance — This bill, also sponsored by CPEHN, directs acute care facilities to post their LEP language assistance policies online and to also file a copy with the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.
- AB 1073: Translating Prescription Drug Labels — Sponsored by the California Board of Pharmacy, this bill requires pharmacists to provide translated prescriptions to patients.
We expect Governor Jerry Brown to sign these measures to provide even better and more accessible information to the newly insured LEP populations of California. Over the next few weeks and months we will discuss each of these bills in greater detail and explain the effect they will have on patients and healthcare providers alike.
Image: Shawn Campbell