Limited English Proficiency

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Resistance to Translating Prescription Drug Labels

(Getty Images)

Right now, drug labels appear only in English in California, yet 44 percent of Californians speak a language other than English at home. (Getty Images)

Every Saturday morning, a steady stream of Chinese and Vietnamese patients line up at the Paul Hom Asian Clinic in Sacramento. Most of them speak little to no English.

Patient assistance director Danny Tao says people come here to get free medical consultations and drug prescriptions. But, he says that when patients take those prescriptions to be filled, they don’t understand the instructions on the label.

“They go pick them up, and we don’t exactly know if they’re taking it or not — or if they know how to take it,” Tao said. Continue reading

Hard Enough Understanding Health Law in English; Try in Mongolian, Khmer or Even Spanish

By Judy Lin, Associated Press

Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 10.15.47 AMOAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — 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.

“‘Covered California’ translates to ‘California Cubierto’ in Spanish — but what exactly does it mean?”
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 California and other states with large and diverse immigrant populations.

California has the largest minority population of any state, about 22.3 million people. That’s followed by Texas with 13.7 million, and New York with 8.1 million. Continue reading