With an estimated 50 million people who speak languages other than English at home, the United States health care system serves one of the most linguistically diverse patient populations in the world. A new report from market research firm Common Sense Advisory answers the question, "How will health care reform affect patients with limited English proficiency (LEP)?"
The firm's new report, "Health Care Reform and Language Services," pinpoints 14 sections of "America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009" that will influence the nation's provision of health care interpreting and translation services. "Numerous studies show that when patients cannot understand discharge instructions and treatment plans, they return to the hospital, which results in excess costs," comments Nataly Kelly, Common Sense Advisory senior analyst and lead analyst for the study. "By increasing the health care system's capacity to provide language services, the proposed legislation would help prevent wasteful spending on unnecessary procedures while improving societal health."
According to the 32-page report, the bill would make new funds available for language access, including 24 grants of up to US$500,000 for translation and interpreting services. The proposed legislation also addresses cultural and linguistic competence training for doctors, nurses, and other clinical staff. "This training is critical, because no matter how much funding is available for interpreting and translation services, health care workers must understand how to comply with the law and use language services properly," adds Kelly. "U.S. Health Care Reform and Language Services" continues Common Sense Advisory's ongoing research and insight into the areas of language access, translation, and interpreting services. The report is available to members of Common Sense Advisory's research.