Obamacare Site Suffers from Awkward Translations

When the Obamacare website debuted earlier this year, critics were eager to point out the site’s many flaws. One of the biggest glitches of all? The site’s poor Spanish translations.

“When you get into the details of the plans, it’s not all written in Spanish. It’s written in Spanglish, so we end up having to translate it for them,” Adrian Madriz, a health care navigator who assists with enrollment in Miami, told the Huffington Post in January. Critics point out grammatical mistakes and literal translations. Many contend that it looks like the government failed to invest the time or funds necessary to produce a high-quality translation and instead translated the site hastily via machine.

“We launched consumer-friendly Spanish online enrollment tools on CuidadoDeSalud.gov in December, which represents one more way for Spanish-speakers to enroll in Marketplace plans,” Health and Human Services Department spokesman Richard Olague told The Associated Press in an email earlier this year. “Since the soft launch, we continue to work closely with key stakeholders to get feedback to improve the experience for those consumers that use the website.”

Complicating an Already Convoluted Enrollment

The poor translation makes enrollment incredibly difficult for the Spanish-speaking population, which currently has some of the highest proportions of the uninsured. According to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, an organization that conducts health policy research, though Hispanics make up approximately 17 percent of the nation’s population, they compromise close to one-third of the country’s uninsured who aren’t elderly.

It should be noted that enrolling Hispanics into health care programs isn’t just about ensuring that individuals have access to health insurance. It is also good for the overall health and stability of these programs. Because of their relative youth, Hispanics are less likely to draw from premium funds available to help pay for health care for older, sicker participants. The bottom line? Hispanic enrollment is critical to the health, wealth, and sustainability of insurance pools.

This piece of the puzzle is not lost on Hispanic citizens. “Disproportionately, we are being counted on to sustain this program. We are a heavy chunk of the folks who are expected to sign up,” explained Daniel Garza, the executive director of the Libre Initiative, a nonprofit, nonpartisan grassroots Hispanic advocacy organization. “To put up a website that is only cosmetic, it’s disrespectful of this administration.”

“If you’re going to have a website, have it work, for the love of God,” he added.

Has Improvement Been Made?

It is all the more problematic that the Hispanic population is battling with Spanish translation issues on the site nearly a year after the launch. The second edition of the HeathCare.gov site and its Spanish counterpart was unveiled earlier this month. So, has the government made the necessary improvements?

The jury is still out, it would appear. Still, the release of the second version was accompanied by one glaring error: an incredibly poor translation of “get ready.” The error was a notable one, as it appeared directly on the main page of the site. As the enrollment process gets underway, only time will tell if the website has managed to successfully mitigate translation issues and misunderstandings, as well as improve user experience by reducing headaches and hassles.

Quote Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/12/obamacare-spanish-website_n_4585195.html

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