Myriad Languages, Cultures Challenge Health Reform


By Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen

Published: 17 September 2013


From WNCN...


Article Excerpt:  Set on a gritty corner of Oakland's International Boulevard, the nonprofit Street Level Health Project offers free checkups to patients who speak a total of 22 languages, from recent Mongolian immigrants seeking a doctor to Burmese refugees in need of a basic dental exam. It also provides a window into one of the challenges for state officials who are trying to implement the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's sweeping health care overhaul.


Understanding the law is a challenge even for governors, state lawmakers and agency officials, but delivering its message to non-English speakers who can benefit from it is shaping up as a special complication. That is especially true in states with large and diverse immigrant populations.


Link to the full story here.


InterpretAmerica's take: Whether you love it or hate it, the first stages of the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare,are about to roll out. Starting October 1st, Healthcare Exchanges will be open for individuals to enroll in healthcare plans. If the state-by-state politics surrounding healthcare reform make an already dense process confusing, layering on the wide diversity of language and cultures represented by new subscribers adds to the maze. This article does an excellent job of outlining both the difficulties of untangling this Gordian knot, but also the solutions several states are trying out. As can be seen by the $43 million dedicated to cultural outreach and education by the State of California, the Affordable Health Care represents a professional opportunity for those translators and interpreters up to the challenge of navigating this new landscape.

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