Obamacare’s Spanish-language Web site is ‘written in Spanglish’

January 13

HealthCare.gov's October 1st launch was a disaster. But at least it was a punctual disaster. The site's Spanish-language version -- CuidadoDeSalud.gov -- launched more than two months late. It doesn't look like the Obama administration used the extra time wisely.


The Associated Press reports "the translations were so clunky and full of grammatical mistakes that critics say they must have been computer-generated." The situation is even worse when applicants begin digging into then nitty-gritty of the plans. "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," Adrian Madriz, a health care navigator in Miami, told the AP.

The Web site, for instance, translates the word "premium" into "prima" -- a word more typically used in Spanish to denote a female cousin. Veronica Plaza, a professor who teaches medical Spanish at the University of New Mexico, told the AP that the site should've used "cuotas," ''couta mensual" or "costo annual." (Update: The Obama administration disputes that "prima" is the wrong word here. They note that Univision, for instance, uses "prima" in their documents.) 

Then, of course, there are the bugs: Some links on the site simply take people back to the English-language HealthCare.gov. Sometimes the site simply doesn't work at all. And the Obama administration has a lot less capacity in its Spanish-language call centers than in its English-language ones, so some Spanish speakers confused by the Web site are having trouble getting help on the phone, too.

Hispanics are particularly crucial to Obamacare's success. About 15 million Hispanics -- or more than 31 percent of the U.S.'s total Hispanic population -- are uninsured. That's a higher rate of uninsurance than for whites (13 percent) or blacks (21 percent). And because the median age for Hispanics in the U.S. is 27 while it's 37 for the rest of the population, many of those uninsured Hispanics are the young, healthy applicants that Obamacare desperately needs to sign up.

Correction: This post identified the original article as written by ABC News. In fact, it was an Associated Press article being carried by ABC News.

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