WA Healthplanfinder Updates
20 December 2013 by healthwatcher
Consumer info fact sheets translated into WA’s threshold written languages (Chinese, Lao, Khmer ( Cambodian), Korean, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese) were posted on Dec. 16, just one week before the deadline to start an application for coverage to be effective Jan. 1, 2014. In an unrelated development, HBE decided on this brief extension for completing applications due to various problems people have had in being able to use the online forms and or access phone customer services. Regarding the translated fact sheets, it’s taken almost 6 months for their publication to replace the original problematic versions that were taken down from the site.
However, the new fact sheets are not easy to find as they are not posted on the consumer website, but located exclusively on the HBE corporate website. The corporate site features a line at top right-hand side of homepage entitled “Information in Other Languages” which links to the fact sheets page, plus also links out to the consumer website. In contrast, the consumer Healthplanfinder site (which is in both English and Spanish) does not offer any such subject line, nor does it display a link to corporate site. The Healthplanfinder site likewise does not contain any readily visible clear statement of consumer language access or disability access rights, except for a message in tiny font on bottom of the homepage that says [sic] : If you need additional language or disability accomodations, you may call 1-855-WAFINDER (1-855-923-4633). On the Spanish version of the website, this statement illustrates yet another example of faulty translation, as the term “disability accomodation” is twice translated, and very ungrammatically, as “discapacidad alojamiento” which means disability lodging. Sure enough, a quick check on Google Translate English > Spanish reveals “lodging” as the first translation for “accommodation.” Since 2012 advocates had been recommending the inclusion of multilingual tag lines and/or translated summaries sections for the website.
Information on some metrics for the Healthplanfinder call center became available last week with the release of the November Healthplanfinder Data Report. On the language access side of things (p.10 of the report) the numbers are not encouraging: the call center received almost 12,000 calls in Spanish, but handled only some 1600 of them. The call center in Spokane has bilingual Spanish-English staff (reported as 6 out of 80 employees at start-up) on site and routes calls in other languages to a telephonic interpreter service. For calls in all languages besides Spanish combined, 1045 were actually handled (answered)out of 3621 calls attempted. The report does not state if the multilingual calls are included in the totals for approximately 35,000 calls handled in November or the almost 158,000 calls throttled (deflected from the system, i.e. not put into the queue to await a response). While the HBE is said to be increasing staffing for the call center, any increases planned for its language capacity are as yet unknown. Given the demand, it would seem that Spanish-speaking callers too could benefit from immediate access to interpreter services.