Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Calfornia law requires HMO's to provide translators.

The state's diversity is cited as a reason for its torch-bearing role: 42.6 percent of Californians do not speak English at home, according to 2007 census figures. In some populations, such as Vietnamese and Korean communities, 60 percent of the population has limited English proficiency.

Well...if the article is correct and 42% of Californians don't speak English at home the state is gonna have all kinds of problems down the road. I've got to say I never suspected the number was that high.

I can see the utility of this law, having understandable doctor visits is just common sense. But by forcing the health care companies to bear this cost you've just raised every one's premiums to in effect remove one of the incentives that people used to have to learn English.

When I lived in Lincoln Nebraska I knew a family of illegal immigrants. After having lived and worked in this country for more than a decade, neither of the parents were able to speak any English whatsoever. If Mrs. Rodriguez had to find ...and possibly pay someone to translate for her...well that was a burden...a burden that in time, would encourage her to learn English.

This is a classic example of how in trying to solve an isolated problem, lawmakers have likely made the situation worse. Whatever you subsidize, you get more of. No wonder California is going broke.

The full article is here.

1 comment:

Greg said...

In the hospital here, they have a service that provided translation over the phone for a bunch of different lauguages. Call the number, ask for the specific language and they translate. I do not know how much it costs the hospital, or how they charge for it, but it must be cheaper than having someone there in the flesh.

Also, if you factor in the extra time nurses and doctors spend trying to comunicate with someone who doesn't speak english, the cost of a translation service might not be that much. ($200 per hour for the doctor, $10 per hour for the translator)

Now, my question is, who can I get to translate for the doctors from other countries. Some of them are fine, but we have had a few that have been nearly impossible to understand.

Greg to Nurse after doctor leaves: "Mmmm, okay. What did he just say?"