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Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum: Health Care

Health Care for Me

Home Thanh

Language Access

Language barrier has always been an issue in my family. Before I went off to college, I was always there to interpret for my parents during their hospital visits. My family and I grew up in a predominately black and Hispanic community so most of the application and health information were provided in English and Spanish. I had to advocate for my parent’s health by talking with our caseworker numerous times about the application process of Medi-Cal and figure out all the policy and available resources that were provided. Most of the information I found was in English so I had to translate it for my parents. When I had school, my parents would ask my uncle, who spoke broken English, to interpret for my parents. Of the times that I came with my parents to the county office to renew our Medi-Cal application, there was always a long line and there was never a time that I saw a Vietnamese interpreter available. Most of the caseworkers there were not Vietnamese, which made it even harder for them to understand us through a cultural context. After I turned 18, the income threshold of Medi-Cal coverage decreased so my family has to do co-pay. Since I moved away to college, my parents have since stopped getting coverage because they did not know how to navigate the system to renew the application. Whenever I went home during break, I always made sure to renew the application so we would get coverage again. The problem is that it is not my duty to fix these problems, but because of the unavailability of interpreters and translated resources, I had to be there for my parents. The sad part is that this cycle would repeat once I go back to college.