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SB 388

Blog Posts tagged "SB 388"

Today, Governor Jerry Brown strengthened access to important health insurance information for Limited English Proficient (LEP) Californians by signing Senate Bill 388 into law. The new law, authored by Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and sponsored by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), requires a health insurance plan’s summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) to be translated into non-English languages spoken by a significant portion of their enrollees. The summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) outlines important information in a health insurance plan including the benefits, costs, and coverage limitations for each health plan. The Department of Managed Health Care and the Department of Insurance are also required to make translated templates of the SBC and glossaries of common insurance terms available on their websites.

“As we expand health care access in the nation’s most diverse state it is critical that Californians get the information they need in the most useful way, which means in their home language whenever possible,” Senator Mitchell said. “This law sets a new standard for the right to know in health care by going far to eliminate language as a barrier.” 

More than 40% of Californians speak a language other than English at home, and an estimated 6 to 7 million Californians (or one in five) are LEP, meaning they speak English less than very well.

Existing California law requires health plans and insurers to translate vital documents into languages other than English for their non-English speaking enrollees. The languages for which written translations are required are based on the size of each plan and the populations they serve. SB 388 makes clear that plans must translate the SBC and the glossary of common insurance terms according to California’s existing language access laws.

We are very close to enacting some important changes to our health care system and your support can make a difference! All three of our sponsored bills are on their way to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk and your letters of support can help encourage him to sign them into law. The bills will help consumers enroll in and access the care they need. Please send in letters of support today!
 
Translating Consumer Tool: SB 388 (Mitchell) requires health insurance plans to translate the “summary of benefits and coverage” – a tool that helps consumers understand their benefits – into non-English languages based on California’s language access requirements. It also requires the California Department of Managed Health Care and the California Department of Insurance to make available on their website the translated templates of the tool. Download and send in a sample letter of support for SB 388 here.

Improving Provider Directories: SB 137 (Hernandez) creates standards for provider directories and requires regular updates so that they include accurate information about which doctors and hospitals are in a patient's network and which languages are spoken when shopping for coverage or seeking care. CPEHN is co-sponsoring this legislation with Consumers Union and Health Access. Download and send in a sample letter of support for SB 137 here.

Your support is needed to ensure consumers are informed about their health insurance benefits and know which doctors and hospitals are in their networks. Urge the California Assembly Committee on Health to pass legislation requiring translation of a health plan's summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) and ensuring provider directories are accurate and up-to-date. Please send in your letter of support today for SB 388 (Mitchell) and SB 137 (Hernandez)
 
SB 388 (Mitchell) requires a health insurance plan’s SBC to be translated into non-English languages consistent with California’s existing language access requirements for other vital documents and would require the California Department of Managed Health Care and the California Department of Insurance to make available translated templates of the SBC on their websites. Download a sample letter of support for SB 388. Letters must be received by 12:00 PM on Wednesday, June 24th.

SB 137 (Hernandez) creates standards for provider directories and requires regular updates so that they include accurate information about which doctors and hospitals are in a patient's network and the languages spoken when shopping for coverage or seeking care. CPEHN is co-sponsoring this legislation with Consumers Union and Health Access. Download a sample letter of support for SB 137. Letters must be received by 12:00 PM on Wednesday, July 1st.

Hearings for the bills are scheduled for:

Update 4:12

Updating the bills we've been talking about today: SB 388 (Mitchell), SB 546 (Leno), SB 291 (Lara), and SB 26 (Hernandez) have all passed out of the Senate Health Committee!

Update 3:40 pm

SB 388, authored by Holly Mitchell and sponsored by CPEHN, would require a health insurance plan’s summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) to be translated into non-English languages consistent with California’s existing language access requirements for other vital documents and would require the Department of Managed Health Care and the Department of Insurance to make available translated templates of the SBC on their websites.

Testimony from bill sponsors and supporters showed the importance of reducing language barriers in the health care system. By having access to translated SBCs, patients will have a better understanding of what benefits they receive through their health plans. The bill was heard without opposition.

You can visit our Policy Center for more information on SB 388.

Update 3:05 pm

SB 546, authored by Senator Mark Leno, would add transparency to large group health plans through a rate review process. The rate review would only kick in if the rate increases are higher than the average increases across all the plans being offered. CPEHN and other supporters of the bill point to skyrocketing health care costs in large group plans, particularly in union health plans, as a reason why rate review is necessary. The bill does not include rate regulation provisions, but the transparency that comes with rate review could lead to more public outcry about drastic rate increases.

We need your support to ensure consumers are informed about their health insurance benefits and know what doctors and hospitals are in their networks. Urge the Senate Committee on Health to pass legislation requiring translation of a health plan's summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) and ensuring provider directories are accurate and up-to-date. Please send in your letter of support for SB 388 (Mitchell) and SB 137 (Hernandez)

Letters of support must be received by Wednesday, April 8th, so download and send in your letters TODAY.

SB 388 (Mitchell) requires a health insurance plan’s SBC to be translated into non-English languages consistent with California’s existing language access requirements for other vital documents and would require the California Department of Managed Health Care and the California Department of Insurance to make available translated templates of the SBC on their websites. Download a sample letter of support for SB 388.

SB 137 (Hernandez) creates standards for provider directories and requires regular updates so that they include accurate information about which doctors and hospitals are in a patient's network and the languages spoken when shopping for coverage or seeking care. CPEHN is co-sponsoring this legislation with Consumers Union and Health Access. Download a sample letter of support for SB 137.