Making an Enrollment Info Session Available in Four Languages — All At the Same Time

By Guest Blogger

Translating information about the Affordable Care Act.

In the final weeks of the second open enrollment period, we’re sharing blog posts from partner organizations about how they’re getting the word out.

This post was written by Stacy Lavilla, Director of Communications, AAPCHO, on behalf of Action for Health Justice.

Many people who stand to benefit from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have limited proficiency in English, so organizations across the country are connecting those communities to linguistically appropriate information about their new coverage options.

Here’s how one organization made in-language resources available leading up to the February 15 deadline. Last month, Asian Health Services (AHS), a community health center in Oakland, California, was one of several Action for Health Justice (AHJ) partners to conduct outreach and enrollment activities during Asian American and Pacific Islander Enrollment Week.

At a community informational session last month, Vanessa Quach, member services manager at AHS, skillfully deconstructed existing insurance plans and complex health terminology for workshop participants. In her presentation Quach explained in laymen’s terms what the ACA meant, what participants’ options for quality, affordable health coverage were, and the specific features of different plans available in the area.

What made this session unique was that participants wore headsets that allowed them to hear the presentation in four different Asian languages. As Quach was presenting ACA information in English, four different staff members translated her words into Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, and Vietnamese. Following the session, participants asked questions that were translated by the staff member into English. Quach would then answer the question in English and that response was then translated for participants. All attendees heard the question and answer in their respective languages as well.

By providing outreach and education in the languages spoken by their target audiences, AHS and other AHJ partners (like Korean Community Center of the East Bay, which was also at the event) are removing a significant barrier that prevents individuals whose first language is not English from receiving services. By offering translation and thoughtful strategies that are considerate of a population’s culture, organizations can honor the intention of the ACA — making affordable health coverage accessible to all communities.

Action for Health Justice is the only national coalition dedicated to ensuring that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders realize the benefits of the ACA.

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