California Insurers Should Comply With Regulations For Interpreter, Translations Services

Armen Hareyan's picture

California insurers are working to comply with new staterules that will require them to provide interpreters and translations ofdocuments to beneficiaries with limited English language skills, the LosAngeles Timesreports. The rules are intended to ensure that residents with limited Englishlanguage skills are able to access services through their insurance company. California alreadyrequires hospitals and public health plans to provide such services.

Beginning in 2009, the rules will require insurers to provide an interpreterfor limited English proficiency members at medical appointments and when theyseek customer service. Insurers by mid-2008 must submit plans detailing howthey will comply with the new state rules.
State officials said thecompliance plan must include:

  • A demographic profile of an insurer's membership;


  • What services will be available for LEP members; and

  • A plan for a system to train staff for answering phone calls in different languages.

The rulesalso will require insurers to provide LEP members with bills, medication formsand other important documents in their native language. Insurers must providetranslations of promotional material and other nonvital documents within 21days of a member's request. Insurers that do not comply with the rules willface fines of $10,000 or more per violation, according to Lynne Randolph, a spokespersonfor the California Department of ManagedHealth Care. DMHCis charged with enforcing the rules for HMOs (Vara-Orta, Los AngelesTimes, 11/23).

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