California state law (SB 853) requires private health plans to provide health care services in a consumer’s language. This law went into effect January 1, 2009 and is a significant step in making our state’s healthcare system and services accessible to all people, including those with limited English proficiency (LEP).
The state’s Department of Managed Health Care, Office of Patient Advocate has some flyers in English, Spanish and Chinese to educate consumers about their rights to receive services in their own language.
SB 853 Consumer Alert:
Note that due to federal preemption, Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are not required to comply with SB 853. Yet, some organizations that offer MA plans also offer non-MA plans in California, which are required to comply with SB 853. Organizations that already have language access services set up for their non-MA plans may, on their own, set a policy to offer language services to all their enrollees, including their MA plan enrollees. Currently, Medicare standards for offering language services focus on marketing and enrollment, versus the provision of health care services.
Please help spread the information on this new law mandating language access services. Also, let us know of any cases of MA plans not providing language access to limited English proficient clients. We will use this information in our advocacy efforts.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More info on language access, see:
Top 10 Most Requested Foreign Languages in California: