California Insurers Gear Up for New Language Assistance Regulations
California is taking steps aimed at ensuring that residents with limited English language skills are able to access services through their insurance company, the Los Angeles Times reports.
By mid-2008, insurers must submit plans detailing how they will comply with new state rules. State officials said the compliance plan must include:
- A demographic profile of an insurer's membership;
- What services will be available for members with limited English proficiency; and
- A plan for a system to train staff for addressing phone calls in different languages.
Beginning in 2009, the rules will require insurers to provide an interpreter for LEP members at medical appointments and when they seek customer service.
The rules also will require insurers to provide LEP members with bills, medication forms and other important documents in their native language. Insurers must provide translations of promotional material and other nonvital documents within 21 days of a member's request.
Insurers that do not comply with the rules will face fines of $10,000 or more per violation, according to Lynn Randolph, a spokesperson for the Department of Managed Health Care. DMHC is charged with enforcing the rules for HMOs.
California already requires hospitals and public health plans to provide such services (Vara-Orta, Los Angeles Times, 11/23). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.