Just like the standard English Obamacare website, the Spanish language version, CuidadoDeSalud.gov, is causing major difficulties for its users.
Right from the get-go there were problems. First, CuidadoDeSalud.gov, launched more than two months late and a Web page with Spanish instructions linked users to an English form.
But if that wasn’t enough, the whole purpose of the site itself, to provide a Spanish language version of the healthcare site to Spanish speaking users, completely failed. The Spanish translations themselves were clumsy at best, and full of grammatical mistakes, leading many to believe they must have been machine-generated translations. Even the name of the site itself translates to “for the caution of health.”
As if the health care navigators don’t have enough on their plates already, helping out millions of Americans looking to simply find out information about the health care program, they must now spend their time helping out with the 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,” said Adrian Madriz, a health care navigator who helps with enrollment in Miami.
The issues with CuidadoDeSalud.gov just go to show how problematic the entire system is. One of the major concerns is getting members of the Spanish community to enroll in an insurance plan under the federal health care law. However, with all the problems they are facing, the people who the law was designed to help have been essentially left to jump through hoops just to get through the bare minimum of the process.
Federal officials say they have been working to make the site better and plan further improvements soon. Also, administrators say they welcome feedback and try to fix typos or other errors quickly.
CuidadoDeSalud.gov, the Affordable Care Act’s Spanish language website, can literally be read ‘for the caution of health.’
“We launched consumer-friendly Spanish online enrollment tools on CuidadoDeSalud.gov in December which represents one more way for Latinos to enroll in Marketplace plans,” said Health and Human Services Department spokesman Richard Olague in an email to The Associated Press. “Since the soft-launch, we continue to work closely with key stakeholders to get feedback in order to improve the experience for those consumers that use the website.”
But these efforts can only do so much when there are literally millions of people who are having issues. And those are only the ones who are actively engaged in the process to become enrolled. There are still large segments of the Hispanic population that require health insurance, who haven’t been swayed into attempting to enroll. Critics say having a translated version of HealthCare.gov was supposed to help boost the number of applicants, but instead, due to the failed attempt at translation, it has had the opposite effect.
In California, officials are saying that fewer than 5,500 people signed up for health care in Spanish in October and November, the most recent period for which records are available. About 4.3 million California residents speak only Spanish, according to census data.
“Spanish speakers are typically the ones who need to sign up for health insurance,” said Veronica Plaza, a professor who teaches medical Spanish at the University of New Mexico. “They are the ones who could use the support.”
CuidadoDeSalud.gov, the Affordable Care Act’s Spanish language website. Across the U.S., about 12% of the 317 million people in the country speak only Spanish, but federal officials have said less than 4% of calls to a national hotline were Spanish-only as of last month.
While you can’t pin all of the insurance-related problems in the US on a problematic website, it’s hard to deny that it certainly adds to the issue.
“In my opinion, the website doesn’t work,” said Grettl Diaz, a 37-year-old Miami gas station cashier who is originally from Cuba.
Diaz said she tried to sign up at home using CuidadoDeSalud.gov. After she couldn’t get the website to accept a scanned document, she called the government’s Spanish hotline seeking help. However, she was repeatedly told to call back because the site was down. She got through days later and waited over an hour for an operator before she was ultimately disconnected.
“I’m very frustrated,” she said through a translator this month. “I’ve spent at least one week on the phone, and I couldn’t get it done.”
After Diaz got fed up with trying to figure out the site on her own, she finally went to a counselor for help and is currently awaiting a response from the health officials before she can proceed with the rest of the application process.
Since moving to Florida, Diaz hasn’t had any insurance. She is hoping through CuidadoDeSalud.gov, she will be able to finally get coverage and ease her mind a little bit.
“Now, I am healthy,” she said. “But I don’t know what will happen tomorrow.”