By July 1, California health plans had to complete a key phase in their compliance with SB-853, which compels them to provide translation services in whatever languages its members demand. California is still in the United States, so I’ll go out on a limb and guess that the majority of members prefer their communications in English.
Of course, there are some folks who, despite being legal residents of the U.S., would prefer to communicate with health plans in other languages. That’s fine, I suppose, but those folks are not willing to pay for the cost of translation themselves, so they got a law passed to mandate it, thereby shifting the costs to those of us who are happy to communicate in English.
I’ve expressed my displeasure at this before. Well, according to a recent update, the health plans have met the July 1 deadline, by which date they had to submit their plans to the regulatory bureaucracy in Sacramento, in preparation for the January launch date.
Thinking a little more about it, I’ve shifted my outrage somewhat. Why are people who don’t want to speak English with their health plan forced to join one where the majority are happy to speak English? If I want to participate in church service in Gaelic, I’m free to do so.
The answer, of course, is that the tax code makes us join the health plan that our employer chooses for us, not one that we choose for ourselves. If the tax code were reformed so that anyone could use pre-tax dollars to join a health plan of his or her choices, people who wanted to join a Serbo-Croat speaking health plan in California would be free to do so.
(Isn’t it amazing how any problem in health care can be turned into a case for a universal tax credit and free choice of health plans?)