Falling Through the Cracks

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Go ahead – visit http://www.healthcare.gov and take a look.  Upper right hand corner gives you the español option.

Of the 30 million who will now enter the national healthcare system, about 9 million of them do not speak English as a first language. (And these 9 million, may we remind you, are legal immigrants in the United States.)  But not all of them are Spanish speakers.  What happens to those for whom English or Spanish is simply not enough of an option to make access clear and understandable?

Currently, hospital budgets reflect use of interpreters, but there are many challenges in making sure that non-English speaking patients are able to access the service and receive the care that they require.

Language barriers have a major impact on patient outcomes and also increase the risk for healthcare providers and hospitals.  This has been documented repeatedly throughout the years.  So what is the solution?

And language barriers are not the only barriers.  As we have written about on this blog previously, cultural differences have an often unrealized and misunderstood influence on the way people seek care, seek support and even seek medical coverage.

Heathcare.gov has a Spanish translation of the English website.  But has that translation been localized to cross cultures and provide a similar level of understanding to someone who not only doesn’t speak English but for whom cultural differences abound?

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