The search for access to health care in North Central Texas is often hindered by language and cultural differences. This is especially true for people of color, who are more likely to lack a regular source of care and be uninsured. Low Medicaid payment rates, a lack of providers in certain neighborhoods, and communication barriers all contribute to the problem. To address this issue, the state must evaluate models used in other states, examine the various options for using federal funding for language services, and develop a cost analysis based on Medi-Cal LEP usage data. Studies have shown that limited language proficiency is associated with underutilization of psychiatric services.
Nurses have described interpreting as an “additional burden” and a “double task”, which can have an impact on the quality of patient care. Among Latinos, access to health care and having a primary care provider vary depending on age, health insurance status, and the number of years spent in the United States. Language proficiency may play a greater role in access than ethnicity. In response to complaints from LEP patients, Boston City Hospital (now Boston Medical Center), Harborview Medical Center in Washington State, and San Francisco General Hospital in California have developed or improved their language assistance services. To address unequal access to care and unequal treatment in healthcare settings, there are several policy options available.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, medical professionals have faced obstacles to meeting the growing demand for patient care.