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Expensive Obamacare website translated into ‘Spanglish’

By   /   January 17, 2014  /   No Comments

By Marianela Toledo | Florida Watchdog

MIAMI — First there were the delays. Then came the malfunction. Now, the Spanish version of the Obamacare website, www.Cuidadodesalud.gov is lost in translation.

Luis Alvarez Castro, a University of Florida associate professor of Spanish and graduate coordinator, said although his brief visit to site unearthed no major grammatical or spelling errors, many of the translations were literal and not correct. For example, the video caption for individuals was translated to the Spanish word “individuales” which does indeed translates literally to individuals, but it refers to things like single occupancy rooms, single serving portions and twin-size bed, and not actually people.

WHAT’S IN A WORD: The Spanish-language version of healthcare.gov might best be described as written in Spanglish.

“In other cases, such as in “condiciones preexistentes,” the translation is not completely accurate. ‘Condicion’ does not exactly mean the same thing in English, but is probably more easily understandable by Spanish-speaking users living in the U.S. than the correct term. Let’s say that this might be considered as Spanglish,” he said.

In another example, ‘premium’ was translated as ‘prima’. Alvarez-Castro said “this might be a regional issue since that term is perfectly valid in Spain but maybe not in every Latin American country.”

Florida’s Watchdog’s Spanish-language reporter conducted her own experiment and came across words that could have been written better.  For example, the verb “llenar” was used to say “fill out the form” when the more appropriate word would have been “completar.” It was written as if the writer just used a generic online translator.

To Adrian Madriz, a health care consultant in Miami, the Spanish website is incomplete.

“When you get into the details of the plans, it’s not all written in Spanish. It’s written in Spanglish. So we end up having to translate it for them,” he told Foxlatino.com.

But whether the problems with the website will discourage Hispanics from signing up is still not known. Alvarez-Castro said even with all of its translation gaffes, he doesn’t see anything that would prevent a Spanish-speaking user from successfully enrolling in the plan.

The bigger question is whether the government got its money’s worth. According to usaspending.gov, CGI Federal, the information-technology contractor hired in September 2011 to build the complex computer system for HealthCare.gov received $ 204.5 million.

But even with all that money, the contractor couldn’t seem to get it right and failed to bring the site online by the Oct. 1 deadline. So on Jan. 10, the Obama administration announced that it ended the contract with CGI and is putting the finishing touches on a new 12-month, $90 million contract with Accenture.

According to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, an health-policy research organization, Hispanics account for roughly 17 percent of the population, but make up nearly 32 percent of the country’s non-elderly uninsured.

As reported by Watchdog.org Hispanics are key for health care reform success. 

A Harvard University poll finds that of the millennial generation, only 30 percent of Hispanics younger than 30 said they would buy insurance on the exchanges if they were eligible. A third said they are 50-50, and another third said they would not participate.

Contact Marianela Toledo at Marianela.Toledo@FloridaWatchdog.org or on Twitter @mtoledoreporter

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Marianela is the journalistic force behind Watchdog.org’s Spanish-language reporting. Since 2012 she has investigated fraud, waste and abuse at the State and local level of Florida government. Her writings have appeared in the Drudge Report, Fox News, Washington Times, Reason Magazine, Human Events, Florida Trend, Bizpac Review, and Telemundo 51, WUVF Univision, MiraTV, Azteca América, Diario Las Américas, Infobae, MiamiDiario, Actualidad Radio. She was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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