The rules are intended to ensure that residents with limited English language skills are able to access services through their insurance company. California already requires hospitals and public health plans to provide such services.
Beginning in 2009, the rules will require insurers to provide an interpreter for limited English proficiency members at medical appointments and when they seek customer service. Insurers by mid-2008 must submit plans detailing how they will comply with the new state rules. State officials said the compliance plan must include:
. A demographic profile of an insurer's membership;
. What services will be available for LEP members; and
. A plan for a system to train staff for answering phone calls in different languages.
The rules also will require insurers to provide LEP members with bills, medication forms and other important documents in their native language.
Insurers must provide translations of promotional material and other nonvital documents within 21 days of a member's request. Insurers that do not comply with the rules will face fines of $10,000 or more per violation, according to Lynne Randolph, a spokesperson for the California Department of Managed Health Care. DMHC is charged with enforcing the rules for HMOs.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation