Language Matters: Barriers to Health Care

Communicating with millions of people who speak many different languages is a huge and difficult task, no matter what.

When the topic is health care, the difficulties are increased.

As the United States continues to work out the best way to implement President Obama’s health care reform, California is attempting to reach out to its 22 million minority citizens, many of whom don’t speak English well or at all.

The language of health care isn't black and white.

Health care information requires very specific vocabularies and words, and translating information about health care, insurance coverage, and services requires careful attention.

Even naming California’s new health care exchange has been difficult, with leaders attempting to create a name that will translate clearly and easily into Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and other languages Californians use.

Creating an easily translatable website is the next task in this ongoing effort, but California is up to the challenge.

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