California Language Assistance Program

Article | February 2021

California Language Assistance Program

Cigna medical requirements

California Senate Bill 853, The Health Care Language Assistance Act, requires health plans to provide language assistance program services to eligible customers with limited English proficiency.

To support this requirement, Cigna developed a California Language Assistance Program (CALAP) for eligible Cigna customers, including those covered by our California Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), Network Open Access, and Network Point of Service (POS) plans, as well as for individuals covered under insured California-sitused Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans and Open Access Plans (OAPs). Through this program, we offer free interpreter services and translation of Cigna's vital standard and vital non-standard documents.*

Who is eligible for CALAP services?

All Cigna customers who live in California are eligible, regardless of the Cigna product or funding.

How can my patients obtain Cigna's free interpreter services?

Your limited English-proficient patients with Cigna plans who live in California can obtain free telephonic interpreter services, in any language, by calling the phone number listed on the back of their ID card or on the language assistance notice enclosed with vital documents they receive from us (such as explanation of benefits).

What languages are available for Cigna vital documents?

Translations are available in Spanish and Traditional Chinese. These have been identified as “threshold” languages – the primary languages of at least 3,000 (or five percent) of Cigna customers in California – for which we must provide translations.

How can my patients obtain Cigna vital documents that have been translated?

Vital standard documents. We will proactively send out standard translated vital documents to those who have registered their written language preference with Cigna as Spanish or Traditional Chinese. Individuals may register their written and spoken language preference, as well as their race or ethnicity, in one of two ways:

  • Call the number on the back of their ID card, or
  • Complete and send us the survey provided with their enrollment materials.

Vital non-standard documents. Upon request, we will translate vital non-standard documents into Spanish and Traditional Chinese at no cost for California residents in adherence with California Senate Bill 853.

We will also translate vital standard and vital non-standard documents, upon request, into additional languages at no cost for California residents in adherence with Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Please note: Documents not considered vital will not be translated.

Key Requirements for Cigna-Contracted Providers and for Cigna

Requirements for Cigna-contracted providers

  • Comply with Cigna's CALAP if your contract was issued, amended, delivered, or renewed on or after January 1, 2009.
  • For free telephonic interpreter services, call the Cigna toll-free number: 1 (800) 806-2059. Cigna does not delegate these services to health care providers.
  • Discourage use of family and friends, especially minors, as interpreters.
  • Document a patient’s refusal of interpreter services in his or her medical record.
  • Advise your limited English-proficient patients with Cigna plans to call us for all translations of vital documents that impact their coverage. Cigna does not delegate translation services to health care providers.
  • Call Cigna Customer Service to request language preference information for your patients (optional). Their written language preference must be registered with Cigna for them to proactively receive vital standard translated documents in Spanish or Traditional Chinese.

Requirements for Cigna

  • Inform customers that interpreter and translation services are available free of charge in 15 non-English languages by including a language assistance notice in all of their vital documents.
  • Offer verbal interpretation services in any language at all Cigna and health care provider points of contact.
  • Discourage use of family and friends, especially minors, as interpreters.
  • Use qualified interpreters and bilingual staff who have been tested for proficiency, and are knowledgeable about health care benefit terminology in non-English languages.
  • Translate vital standard documents into Spanish and Traditional Chinese, and proactively send them to eligible Cigna customers who registered their written language preference as one of these threshold languages.
  • Translate vital non-standard documents into Spanish and Traditional Chinese, upon the request of an eligible Cigna customer, and send the documents within 21 calendar days.
  • Post translated standard vital documents on the Cigna website next to the English vital documents.
  • Provide cultural competency and CALAP procedural training for all Cigna staff that routinely interact with CALAP-eligible customers.
  • Collect and store Cigna customers’ race and ethnicity information, as well as their preferred spoken and written languages, in a secure database to ensure confidentiality.
  • Assess customer demographics at least every three years to identify threshold languages.
  • Keep a record of a customer’s refusal of interpreter services.
  • Document, track, and trend CALAP complaints.
  • Monitor CALAP compliance.

Cigna Interpreter Services

Call toll free 1 (800) 806-2059 to access free interpreter services to support your patients with Cigna plans who do not speak English.

For More Information

Review the California Language Assistance Program Training for Providers and Staff. Go to More Resources to get more information. If you have additional questions about CALAP, call Cigna Customer Service at 1 (800) 88Cigna 1 (800) 882-4462.

california language assistance program