Medical Interpreter Law California – Language Access Right

Medical interpreter law California is crucial for the people who are not proficient in English to take the proper treatment process. Even fluent English-speaking people often find that conversations with Healthcare professionals sound like Greek to them.


Thus, imagine if you talk only Spanish or Greek, or Farsi and want to have an in-depth discussion with an oncologist about the risks and benefits of an aggressive form of chemotherapy.  Then it would be quite challenging to communicate accurately with the Medical service provider.

So, it is essential to have a Medical interpreter to overcome such a communication gap and take correct treatment. Here we’ve discussed a detailed overview of the Medical Interpreter law California. Check out this post carefully.

Medical Interpreter Law California – Your Right of Language Access in Medical Care:

This post focuses on the Medical interpreter law in California with all necessary information to provide you a detailed overview to access language assistance service.

In the following sections, we’ve discussed the worth mentioning issues from a legal perspective to guide you for Medical interpreting services. So, keep reading this post until the end.

1. Medical Interpreter Law California and Language Access:

Hospitals are actively addressing the challenge to provide quality health care services to individuals with limited-English proficiency in California. Moreover, they are also actively working to extend their service to deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals.

Medical Interpreter Law California and Language Access.

Likewise, Hospitals recognize the importance of ensuring effective communication among medical providers, patients, and their families. State law in California requires licensed general acute-care hospitals to implement policies to provide language assistance services to patients to eliminate communication barriers.

Besides, federal law requires hospitals that receive federal financial assistance like Medicare, Medicaid, and grant funds to ensure equal language access. Similarly, they must take specific steps to provide meaningful access to services for limited-English proficient individuals.

Moreover, the California Hospital Association has published a manual for health care providers. The manual describes the details of state and federal language assistance laws.

2. California Vetoes Medical Interpreters Bill:

Several studies have reported the severe consequences of language barriers and poor communication between physicians and their patients in the treatment process. More than 40 % of the population speaks a different language other than English in California.

California Vetoes Medical Interpreters Bill.

So, there is no scope to ignore the role of medical interpreters in California. Despite this fact, the governor of California recently vetoed a bill that would have allowed a budget to meet the growing need for medical interpreters in the state.  Suppose the passed AB 1236 bill would have addressed California’s acute shortage of medical interpreters by permitting the state to spend $ 200,000.

Moreover, the Affordable Care Act funded to create about 7,000 medical interpreter jobs within ten years. Twenty-five million people are not fluent enough in English to get through a routine hospital visit in the United States. The mentioned situation is According to the 2010 U. S. census data, and the number has been grown since then.

Similarly, some states have seen triple-digit percentage increases in non-native English speakers just in the last few years. So, the demand for medical interprets is growing over the years.

3. Medical Interpreter Law for Language Assistance:

The people with limited English proficiency look for doctors and office staff who speak their native language or ask for an interpreter. Certified medical interpreters in California must have the training to translate health information accurately. Moreover, they must keep a patient’s health information private following the privacy policy.

Medical Interpreter Law for Language Assistance.

Although your family member or friend can provide interpretation service, it is better to take qualified interpretation services. Additionally, competent interpretation services are available to you for free.

4. Your Rights by Medical Interpreter Law California:

Commonly, all health plans must provide a qualified medical interpreter when you ask. Moreover, it is applicable either in-person hospital visits or remote calls through a telephone- or video-conferencing system with healthcare providers. Additionally, most health plans, and all large plans, must provide you written materials in the main languages spoken by their team members.

Your Rights by Medical Interpreter Law California.

Similarly, these materials can include as the following:

i) Your handbook of benefits, which also called an Evidence of Coverage

ii) Standard letters for the medical care and

iii) the notices of health plan eligibility and membership requirements to avail the services,

iv) Notices of denial, reduction, modification, or termination of services and benefits,

v) Notices of the right to file grievances and appeals.

Moreover, the State law requires that hospitals have qualified medical interpreters, either on-site or by telephone, 24 hours a day. Additionally, the Health plans must pay for these services to ensure equal language access to the patients. There is no exception, and you should not charge patients for medical interpreting services.

5. Making Appointments for Medical Interpreters:

You must address your requirement in advance if you require an interpreter in medical settings. So, it would help if you told your doctor or the office staff to arrange Medical interpreters as early as possible.  Moreover, ask your doctor, health plan, and pharmacy to put your language request and need for a healthcare interpreter in your medical record.

Making Appointments for Medical Interpreters.

Similarly, the “I Speak” card shows the language a person speaks. This card is printed both in English and in the primary language. You can use this card to tell a medical care provider and ask for an interpreter in the desired language. You can visit the hospital website to obtain an “I Speak” card.

6. Medical Interpreter Law California for Instant Help:

Call your health plan if you face a problem getting your required language interpreting services. You can also contact the Help Center if you can’t fix the problem with your health plan. But before doing that you have to know the problems with interpreters in healthcare.

Medical Interpreter Law California for Instant Help.

Because the Help Center facilitates instant assistance in the listed languages by the law in California. However, this service is not available in Latin as it is a dead language and it is hard to learn Latin.

7. California Medical Care Bill to Boost Interpretation:

A recent bill in California makes additional provisions for the Healthcare language assistance services. Moreover, it is in a move that looks set to increase access to services and improve the state’s quality of interpreting services.

California Medical Care Bill to Boost Interpretation.

The California Senate Bill No. 223 Chapter 771, which Governor Jerry Brown approved on October 13, 2017. It aligns with The Health and Safety Code, the Welfare and Institutions Code, and The Insurance Code. Additionally, this bill comes soon after another relevant code, and that is The Labor Code.

Likewise, this came under fire from the interpreting community. Moreover, they felt that it has led to the undercutting of professional interpreters’ service fees. As it allows “provisionally certified” interpreters must provide in certain situations.

8. Medical Interpreter Standards California:

Surprisingly, the previous bill pointed to a long list of external sources for Medical Interpreting standards guidance. This was ranging from California and other states’ measures, those established by nationally recognized associations, information of complaints to the HMO Helpline.

Medical Interpreter Standards California.

It focuses on meeting the minimum qualification criteria under the new bill. Moreover, interpreters must now demonstrate proficiency in English and the target language. Similarly, they must know the terminology, concepts relevant to health care and health care delivery systems, ethical principles, and client privacy policy. Furthermore, they must learn the Latin language as many Medical terms came from Latin.

Furthermore, the recent bill states that individuals will not be required to provide their interpreters or depend on others like the medical staff and accompanying children or adults. The exception can allow unless an emergency and a qualified interpreter are not immediately available.

Likewise, if someone specifically requests it and it will be deemed appropriate. Aside from the mentioned exemptions, it is mandatory to provide a qualified interpreter.

9. Medical Interpreter as Civil Right in California:

As we know, the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on color, race, national origin in all activities or programs receiving federal funding as many Healthcare programs depend on federal funding. It includes Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicare, veterans’ health, hospitals’ financial assistance.

Medical Interpreter as Civil Right in California.

Moreover, it also provides health insurance subsidies created under the Affordable Care Act. In proposing the changes, eliminating the requirements would save “the health care system” between $147 million and $1.34 billion within a year. However, it didn’t specify how it arrived at the mentioned range or to whom those savings would be affected.

Many advocates for health care access and immigrants illustrate the proposal as part of other steps taken against immigrants by the government. It also includes enacting a rule that would make it more challenging for legal immigrants to qualify for citizenship if they use public resources like Medicaid or housing assistance.

10. Medical Interpreter Law to Minimize Poor Compliance:

Many case studies have shown that inadequate language services can result in various medical mistakes, including death. Similarly, patients failed to describe their symptoms to doctors resulting in incomplete medical histories. Moreover, patients can’t understand medication advice or discharge instructions.

Medical Interpreter Law to Minimize Poor Compliance.

The National Health Law Program published a 2010 study by the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health. It showed that a medical malpractice carrier was operating in four states. It found 2.5% of the carrier’s claims result in nearly $2.3 million in damages or settlements. Similarly, it also demonstrated a provider’s failure to provide adequate interpretive services.


Medical interpreter law California plays a crucial role for hospitals, medical facilities, rehabilitation centers, behavioral clinics, urgent care, etc. If you provide services in the medical care sector, you must provide an interpreter to assist the communication between patients and the medical team.

Moreover, you should also hire an interpreting service if your business covers a dental practice, physical therapy, chiropractor, or other Medical care services. So, improve your healthcare facilities by hiring interpreting service providers to make sure your clients feel comfortable and respected.

Call The Language Doctors team today to hire Medical Interpreters or Translators in California. Our expert and experienced linguist would be happy to help you to meet all your language services demands.

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