Four Ways the Affordable Care Act Will Place New Demands on Health Care Companies:


The Affordable Care Act, passed in March 2010 with most provisions becoming effective as of January 2014, has allowed millions of Americans to gain health insurance coverage. On its face, it does not seem that this would place any demands concerning language services. In reality, for health care companies to succeed, they will need to meet new growing language demands

1. Thousands of Limited English Proficient (LEP) Individuals Are Now Insured.

Prior to the legislation, nearly half of LEP adults in the US were uninsured; roughly three times the rate of English speakers. According to the UCLA Center for Health Policy research “LEP individuals make up a sizable portion-as much as 36%- of California’s newly insured population.”This brings a huge influx of individuals who do not speak English well into the health care sector. This will place new demands on doctors, nurses, hospitals, clinics and other health care providers to communicate with these individuals. This influx may be more strongly felt in certain areas, and is entirely dependent on local language communities. With an influx of LEP individuals a rise in the need for translations of vaccination records, consent forms, insurance policies, prescriptions, medical charts etc. should be expected.

2. The ACA Mandates Some Translations and Language Services to be Provided to Patients

The ACA includes a Non-Discrimination Requirement (Section 1557) which builds off of previous legislation, like Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. This requirement, along with the Plain Language Requirement (1331), and the Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Requirement (Section 1001), mandates that insurance companies’ communications with patients are easy to understand in the patient’s native language. This can be done through translation or interpreting. It is the company’s responsibility to ensure that the patient clearly understands. 

3. The ACA will Collect and Evaluate Data on the Basis of Primary Language

The ACA requires “the ongoing, accurate and timely collection and evaluation of data on health care disparities on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, and disability status”. Having to focus on this variable, health care providers will start to focus on providing adequate language services. This could mean a rise in on-site and telephonic interpretation services to ensure LEP individuals are still receiving high-quality health care. This could lead to an increase in interpreting needs and require translations of pamphlets and patient information leaflets.

4. Some States Have Already Started To Mandate Medical Translations

New York State and New York City have already passed laws requiring pharmacies to translate prescription drug labels. California has also begun debating similar legislation and currently offers translations of drug labels available on line. To ensure that prescription drugs are taken properly and safely, drug labels need to be translated in to plain and easy to understand language. With the rise of LEP individuals being insured currently, this will become increasingly important. The pharmacist is often the last point of contact someone has with a medical professional before taking their prescription. It is unrealistic to expect individual pharmacists to speak each language they may encounter. There are a number of possible approaches to solving the language gap in the pharmacy. This can include computer programs with saved translations of instructions or increase interpreting services at pharmacies.


The Translation People are more than suited for the new linguistic demands the ACA brings about. We offer a range of language services from interpreting and document translation, to website and software translation and technical authoring. Our translators all work into their native languages to ensure the texts are easy to read. Don’t hesitate to contact today for a quote!