How 2 payers reach their non-English-speaking members

Here are some of the ways Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Florida Blue get information to their non-English-speaking members:

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts: 

In May 2021, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts made its website available in five additional languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, simplified Chinese and Vietnamese.

"For many of our members, the website is the first place they seek information," said Ryan O'Donnell, Blue Cross Blue Shield vice president of member, account and provider service, said in a company news release when the change was made. "Our job is to remove any barriers between our members and the care they need, and taking this step to minimize language barriers is one important way we're doing that."

The payer determined which languages to add by analyzing member calls and translation requests, as well as looking at broad member demographic trends, it said.. 

Since the launch, about 1,200 visitors have accessed the additional language versions of the website, Tonya Webster, the payer's senior vice president chief consumer experience officer, told Becker's. Spanish has been the most accessed, followed by Chinese. 

"While this currently only represents less than 1 percent of traffic to [the website], we know through digital activity data and member service team feedback that these members are highly engaged," Ms. Webster said. "As a result, we are planning the work to expand the translated site to our behind login experience later this year  —  which will provide a fully cohesive experience for these members."   

Ms. Webster said the payer is in early discussion about translating other websites, such as its Medicare site, to the five languages. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts also launched a fully in-house Spanish call center in March of last year. Several languages have always been available through the support of an outside language line partner, but the decision to bring the Spanish language service in-house came from an employee suggestion at a diversity, equity and inclusion forum, according to the report. About 80 percent of the payer's incoming calls requesting translation services are for Spanish.  

Florida Blue:

With a large Spanish-speaking population, Florida Blue has offered much of its member information in Spanish for several years, said Toni Woods, the payer's director of public relations. 

That information includes enrollment and onboarding emails, letters and flyer, Ms. Woods said. Its member website has been available in Spanish since at least 2019, she said. The Florida Blue app is available in Spanish, as are its care management app Blue For Me and mental well-being vendor app, meQuilibrium.   

Ms. Woods said that many of the brick-and-mortar Florida Blue Centers in the state have Spanish-speaking agents and service advocates on staff.

"One of the most important investments we made recently to serve Florida’s Hispanic population was our acquisition of Triple-S Management, the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan of Puerto Rico," Ms. Woods said. "There is a growing Puerto Rican population in Florida, and we are combining our knowledge of Florida and the cultural expertise of Triple-S to make it an excellent member experience."

Ms. Woods said there is a significant Creole-speaking community in South Florida, and the payer offers educational information in Creole, including ACA and COVID-19 educational flyers. She said the company also tries to hire Creole-speaking employees for in-person Florida Blue Centers in that area of the state. 

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