It seems like it was just yesterday when we were in the midst of a national election and speculating if the Affordable Care Act was going to move forward as planned. Fast forward just three months to February and the Final Rule for Essential Health Benefits was issued. Expanded access through Medicaid expansion and Insurer Markets is a reality and open enrollment is approaching fast.
This expanded access will reach populations that haven’t previously had coverage, and the learning curve will be huge. I’ve lived in the healthcare system my entire career and I still find the flow charts explaining access to be a bit of a spaghetti diagram. And that’s just the start—once people determine their eligibility, they will need to make decisions about health plans, navigate enrollment forms, select providers, etc. This is an excellent opportunity not only to provide care, but also to provide education to new members on wellness, prevention and disease management. As the immigrant population will comprise a significant percentage of the newly eligible, providing these materials to consumers with limited English proficiency will be critical to improving the experience, outcomes and ultimately population health.
Health literacy is a big concern in our healthcare system affecting both escalating costs and outcomes. It is particularly prevalent among the elderly, and members of minority or ethnic groups who already face language and cultural barriers. A few things to keep in mind when creating and translating materials are: target 6th-8th grade literacy levels, write clearly in active voice, use short sentences, use clear headings, incorporate cultural nuances for LEP populations, and use graphics to help explain concepts. We also find that Q&A formats work well.
I firmly believe it’s up to all of us to simplify the increasing complexity of the health care system!
Want to learn more about health literacy and how to prepare your health plan for the changing healthcare marketplace? Download and watch our recent webinar, 2012 Health Plan Preparedness.
As you may know, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is working to develop a single, streamlined application to facilitate enrollment in Medicaid, CHIP, and the new health insurance Exchanges.
In the supporting statement released with the draft paper application and list of questions in the online application, CMS stated that it plans to collect race and ethnicity demographic data on the household contact on the application.
Given that an estimated 23% of Exchange applicants will speak a language other than English at home, the National Health Law Program (NHLP) is strongly recommending that the HHS consider the needs of limited English proficient (LEP) and amend the streamlined application to collect language data from all applicants, not only the household contact. NHLP believes that without this data it would make it difficult for the Exchanges, health plans, navigators and others to identify LEP individuals who need language services.
If you would like to comment on the single streamlined application you can do so between now and Thursday, Feb. 28 via www.regulations.gov; search for “CMS-10440.”
Not only are health plans facing reform, but as our population continues to diversify, language and cultural barriers continue to complicate matters. Health plans across the nation are preparing for what’s in store for the next two years. In order to succeed in this evolving environment, they need to reassess current strategies and find ways to turn challenges into new opportunities. The healthcare industry must redesign its business models to better capture, serve, and keep a growing class of empowered customers. Healthcare reform has brought more questions than answers, and there’s still much we don’t know. One thing that can certainly be said, however, is that the health plans of tomorrow will not be the same as today. Therefore it is vital they keep members informed, educated and engaged.
Join VIA on February 27 for our next healthcare translation webinar on 2013 Health Plan Preparedness. This complimentary event will highlight features of the health care law that pertain to language access, and will better equip health plans to serve their diverse members.
Attendees will also learn:
- Trends around legislation, immigration and language populations
- Prioritizing your budget for the greatest impact
- Tips for managing content – from healthcare literacy, translation to cultural sensitivity
- Using print, video and mobile to improve education and engagement
Time’s running out, so reserve your seat now and stay ahead of the curve!
Tools That Support Translation Centralization Efforts
As companies quickly grow, communications can often become scattered. Long term, this disconnect can lead to fragmented processes and efforts throughout the various internal departments and/or groups and reduced visibility from the top down on what the company is working on as a whole and the resources available. It also means that groups may have limited access to information from other departments which can cause internal errors, inconsistencies and duplicated efforts. In the translation world, both duplicated efforts and inconsistencies in the way information is shared and created can significantly increase translation costs.
VIA has created an online Portal that departments can use to centralize translation efforts on one platform to increase visibility, so as not to duplicate efforts and keep a close watch on overall translation budgets. VIA’s Online Language System (OLS) allows clients to receive estimates in real time and track all orders made through various departments. The OLS Portal is a great way to manage translation centralization efforts; keep track of previously translated materials, manage translation budgets and save time on the estimating and translation process.
For more information, please visit our website at www.viadelivers.com