Health Care Experiences Vary for Limited-English Speakers
Experiences among limited- and non-English speakers seeking health care in California can vary significantly, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reports.
Under California law, hospitals and insurers are required to offer translation services to provide "meaningful access" to health care for limited-English speakers.
However, the experiences of such individuals, particularly among Spanish speakers, can be irregular, according to "KXJZ News."
Some non-English speakers attend appointments with hired translators, while others rely on relatives to translate what their physicians are saying. However, some individuals who use relatives to translate have concerns that they might not be receiving the complete message.
David Hayes-Bautista, director of the Center for Latino Health and Culture at the UCLA School of Medicine, said that such practices are not perfect, but they can improve timely access to care.
Meanwhile, some limited-English speaking patients who seek care at facilities with Spanish-speaking providers might not fully comprehend all of the information they are given. Experts say that could be the result of language barriers or the complexity of medical terminology.
According to Hayes-Bautista, the root of the problem is a shortage of Latino physicians in California.
He noted that the issue could be remedied in part by:
- Recruiting more physicians from Mexico or Latin America; and
- Training more Latino and Spanish-speaking medical students (Bartolone, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 5/11).