About Language Services

What Are Language Assistance Services?

Language assistance services are services available from your HMO if you or a family member use American Sign Language (ASL) or do not speak or understand English as well as another language. These services, such as an interpreter to help you talk with your doctors or materials that are written in your preferred language, may assist you with obtaining and making the most of the medical care and treatment you receive.

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What Services Do HMOs Offer in My Language?

To find out what services HMOs offer in your language, first select a type of insurance coverage and then click on your preferred language. The first two charts show the language assistance services offered in your preferred language by the HMOs in your area. A check in a box means that the HMO offers the service. If you do not see a check, you may still ask your HMO if they can make the service available to you in your preferred language.

There are other charts that provide information about language services including, language services complaints, Plan staff and provider training, and Plan operations and policies related to language assistance.

The language services an HMO offers routinely may be different depending on your insurance coverage. For example, an HMO may offer different language services to members who have health insurance through their employer than it offers to members who have Medi-Cal.

In California there are new language assistance regulations to create more standardization across types of insurance coverage; these regulations require HMOs to have implemented a language assistance program for Group or Individual Plan members by January 2009. Data presented here is reflective of what Plans report is available now or will be available to members as of January 1, 2009.

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How Did OPA Obtain This Information?

OPA sent a survey in 2008 to most of California’s largest HMOs asking them about their language services. The language assistance services charts are based on the HMOs’ answers to questions about:

  • How members communicate with their HMO and their doctors.
  • How members get information in non-English languages.
  • How members get information on services and costs.
  • Does the HMO think language services are important.

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How Can I Get More Information?

To find out more about language services, call your HMO. You can find the phone number and web site for each HMO on the HMO and Medical Group Directory page. You can also click on an HMO’s name wherever you see it on this web site.

If you have a problem getting language assistance services, call the Office of the Patient Advocate at 1-866-466-8900. There is no charge for this call.