January 14 2014

How Do You Say “Glitches" in Spanglish?

Patrice J. Lee

CuidadoDeSalud.gov, the Spanish version of the federal ObamaCare portal, is the ugly sister of healthcare.gov. Its technical problems mirrored those of healthcare.gov, but it has problems even its sister site hasn’t experienced. Nor has it been a priority of the Administration.

Spanish-speakers quickly notice then when they log onto the site that it can be read literally as “for the caution of health.” That’s a fitting caution for anyone who is contemplating buying into ObamaCare.

Then there are the myriad technical and language problems. Should this be how the Administration treats Americans whom it once viewed as an important group of uninsured?

AP reports:

The site, CuidadoDeSalud.gov, launched more than two months late.

A Web page with Spanish instructions linked users to an English form.

And the translations were so clunky and full of grammatical mistakes that critics say they must have been computer-generated — the name of the site itself can literally be read "for the caution of health."

"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 the site underscore the halting efforts across the nation to get Spanish-speakers enrolled under the federal health care law. Critics say that as a result of various problems, including those related to the website, many people whom the law was designed to help have been left out of the first wave of coverage.

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.

States are not faring better with their Spanish-version websites either. Enrollment efforts in California, Florida and New Mexico – all states with high Latino populations – had sluggish Spanish enrollments and slow enrollments overall. The faulty website plays a role.

Stories abound of people who have visited CuidadoDeSalud.gov and who gave up on the process because the website kept crashing, would not accept eligibility or income documents, featured unintelligible translations, or was down entirely.

What’s interesting here is the message Latino advocates say they are receiving from the Administration. After what they say  was an unprecedented collaboration between competing Spanish-media outlets and Latino business as well as Latino advocates and community groups to urge Spanish-speaking communities to sign up for health care, the site’s two-month delayed launch, technical problems and lack of priority by the Administration, delivered a missed opportunity.

We reported on just this possibility last fall when it became apparent that the CuidadoDeSalud.gov was being pushed to the back burner once again.

What Americans experienced with healthcare.gov, Spanish-speakers experienced twice over. Except it doesn’t appear they received the apologies or ever became a priority.

Hispanics represent a third of the estimated 47 million uninsured Americans. The Administration is shooting itself in the foot with this once-loyal demographic. This faulty website erodes credibility of federal officials with the Spanish speaking population, demonstrates the ineptitude of government  as the solution to their problems, and probably underscores a belief that authorities really don’t care about them.

 One professor noted "They will look at this, and think, 'Man, they really don't care about us.'" Can you blame them?

 

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