Covered California, California’s state health insurance exchange, offers information to new enrollees in Spanish and English. Information sheets are available through the website in 11 other languages. However, once LEP (Limited English Proficiency) customers have enrolled in a health plan, notices and information have gone out to them in English, even though they indicated they would prefer to be contacted in different languages. As a result, some enrollees have received vital information detailing coverage changes or payment issues in English, and were unable to understand what was being communicated to them.
Covered California is working to include more languages in its mailings, especially renewal forms. Currently these are sent out in English and Spanish, but plans are in the works to include other languages as Covered California expands. Other letters and forms have been translated and sent in Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese. However, Covered California enrollees speak many other languages, and it is critical that important information be translated and delivered in the languages they can read and understand.
Even though federal and state laws prohibit discrimination based on language, not every document is required to be translated, and required languages are based on population demographics. This means that some languages are not represented adequately through translation, and the people who speak them may be missing important communication regarding their health care coverage, benefits, etc.
If an individual feels that lack of language access contributed to a loss of benefits, they may consider filing an appeal with Covered California.
Covered California’s open enrollment for 2015 coverage begins November 15, 2014 and ends February 15, 2015. For more information on Covered California, visit their website at http://www.coveredca.com/.
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