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Health Overhaul Language

Laura Lopez, left, checks the blood pressure of Santos Aguilar Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, at the Street Level Health Project in Oakland, Calif. In trying to brand California's new health care exchange, state officials had a hard time coming up with a name that signified health insurance, let alone one that would translate well into other languages such as Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog and Vietnamese. The exchange's 5-member board settled on "Covered California" and is currently testing tag lines to see which words resonate best in focus groups. Lopez applauds the exchange for pledging to offer written materials in different languages. But she says the state will have to commit to providing one-on-one interpretive resources because some are illiterate, some don't believe they are qualified for assistance, and some don't know how to advocate for themselves. Many families will also have members with different legal statuses. Covered California estimates there are 5.6 million Californians without health insurance, or 16 percent of the population under age 65. Of that number, 4.6 million people are eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act and one million are ineligible due to their immigration status. "It's another big population that's left behind," Lopez said.