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Inquiry. 2006 Spring;43(1):66-76.

Language barriers to health care access among Medicare beneficiaries.

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  • 1Department of Health Services, School of Public Health, Campus Box 951772, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, USA.


This study examined language barriers to health care access among a population-based sample of Medicare seniors in California in 2001 and 2003. Results indicate that Medicare beneficiaries with limited English proficiency (LEP) had less access to a usual source of care and were less likely to receive preventive cancer screening tests. LEP Medicare beneficiaries who also were covered by Medicaid tended to fare better than those without Medicaid. This could be due to federal civil rights rules that require Medicaid health care providers to offer free language assistance, but exclude from these requirements physicians who provide only Medicare services. Findings suggest the federal government should take steps to reduce language barriers in Medicare.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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