The regulations governing PPACA state that health care providers and managed care organisations must provide individuals with materials that are not only in their preferred language, but also in plain language.
London, UK (PRWEB UK) 23 August 2014
The U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called ObamaCare, has been the subject of considerable news coverage, as well as heated debate by its supporters and opponents. Many of the programme’s policies and processes have come under intense scrutiny, but one issue that can cause serious problems has not received much focus: the translation of critical information for individuals with preferred languages other than English.
PPACA Enrollment Problems in California
The State of California, which has boasted the largest numbers of PPACA enrollees, is also home to hundreds of residents with limited English proficiency (LEP). According to a Greenlining Institute report, 40 per cent of those eligible for coverage fell under the LEP umbrella.1 These Californians found that enrollment materials were confusing or had been mistranslated, making it difficult to accurately answer enrollment questions. This problem was so bad that one enrollment counselor told the Greenlining Institute, “[The] Spanish application was too confusing for clients so I would use the English applications and translate the questions.” Further investigation found that the translated content used language that did not make sense to native speakers. The report further stated, “Every person we interviewed identified language barriers as the biggest obstacle to educating and enrolling more people in health insurance plans.”
Addressing PPACA Translation Issues
The regulations governing PPACA state that health care providers and managed care organisations must provide individuals with materials that are not only in their preferred language, but also in plain language. Further, it states that, “The term ‘plain language’ means language that the intended audience, including individuals with limited English proficiency, can readily understand and use.”
To meet this expectation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services created the Toolkit Guidelines for Culturally Appropriate Translations to serve as a guide.
This document contains information guidelines and best practices to help health care providers and Managed Care Organisations (MCO) produce documents that meet usability requirements.
Recommendations include the following:
- Begin with a well-written document in English. A document that is easy to understand in English increases the likelihood that it can be translated into another language without compromising comprehension. Authors should create original documents based on the premise that they will likely be translated.
- Do not rely on word-for-word translations. Word-for-word translations may lack the sense and spirit of the original content and as a result, fail to effectively serve the audience.
- Avoid text in images. The translator may lack the capability to translate content such as a callout on an image. To avoid confusion, do not embed text within an image.
- Plan for formatting differences. There can be a 20 to 30 per cent increase in the space needed when English is translated into certain languages. Create document layouts that accommodate this expansion.
The most important factor to consider in PPACA document translation is the quality and experience of your language translators. For the best results, choose professionals with the knowledge and cultural awareness to ensure that the information is being correctly conveyed. Work with a proven language services provider that has professionals who are native speakers of the languages into which the documents will be translated.
1 Medina, Jordan and Saporta, Carla, “Covered California’s First Year: Strong Enrollment Numbers Mask Serious Gaps,” THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE, June, 2014. http://greenlining.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/iHealth-Report-spreads.pdf.
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