Diversity is a good thing except when it divides people or causes unforeseen disadvantages to certain minority groups.
California is a very diverse place. According to the United States Census Bureau, the state is made up of many difference races, with groups including Caucasian, African-American, Pacific Islander, Hispanic and Asian, as well as people of mixed race and those of Native American origin. California is a wonderful example of the diversity that makes America what it is – a beautiful place people of all backgrounds can feel comfortable calling home.
There are numerous benefits to diversity, both culturally and colorfully. When it comes to health insurance and health care, though, language and cultural differences can be a barrier. If something important is misunderstood, a big problem can result. For example, a young Hispanic woman who needs care for her asthmatic son might not be able to properly communicate his symptoms and health history to the emergency room physician. An elderly Asian man with diabetes might have trouble understanding his doctor’s instructions on how to manage his condition.
These scenarios are not only troubling, but likely, when you consider that according the Census Bureau there are well over 7 million Americans who speak English “not well” or “not at all”. Many states, including California, are concerned about the effect this has on the quality of healthcare available to these individuals.
In response, the California Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board has put in place a program that makes sure that those covered under the state’s health insurance program, Healthy Families, have access to the services of an interpreter when receiving health care. Additionally, the program provides other assistance for those who are at risk of having cultural or language differences impair their access to quality care.