We don’t have an official language in the United States. Instead, we have an incredibly diverse country of people who speak many languages. One in every six Coloradans speaks a language other than English at home.
Insurance is incredibly important to living in the United States, and to that end, being able to read your insurance plan in a language you know is paramount. Language access is vital and something everyone deserves. If you own a car, you are required to have insurance for it. Health insurance provides access to affordable health care. When we live in a place that makes it very necessary to hold insurance, we should make it as easy to navigate as possible. We can do this by simply making insurance documents more accessible through language.
Since I could read, I had to help my parents translate all types of important documents. This is not something they wanted me to do, and I probably made a lot of mistakes trying to interpret information I couldn’t understand. But they had no other choice. If those documents had simply been provided in Spanish, they wouldn’t have had to rely on their child to translate. While I’m happy and proud, I could help my parents after all they’ve done for me, I don’t think it’s fair that they didn’t have a way to access information in their language. I am not a qualified translator, so the information I translated to them couldn’t have been completely accurate, and I believe everyone deserves to understand what they’re reading and signing.
I think it is amazing that we have so many different people in Colorado with different cultures and languages. I have seen Colorado businesses, schools, and clinics take steps toward language inclusivity, but we have a long way to go. Translating insurance documents and verifying the translation is correct, is another step in the right direction. The people in Colorado should be able to succeed, and they can only do that if they’re receiving the same treatment as others which includes receiving documents in a language they understand and prefer.
I urge Colorado elected officials to vote yes on House Bill 1004 because language access is a critical step toward equity.
Alexandra Reyes is a college student and Policy Fellow at Young Invincibles, an organization that works to uplift young adult voices.