California Language Assistance Program (CALAP)

Article | April 2012

California Language Assistance Program (CALAP)

Interpreter and translation services in California

Cigna Medical Requirements

“The Health Care Language Assistance Act" (California Senate Bill 853) requires insurers to establish and support a language assistance program for certain California residents who have limited English proficiency.

To meet this need, Cigna developed a California Language Assistance Program (CALAP) for eligible Cigna plan participants.

This program offers free interpreter services and translation of Cigna's vital standard and non-standard documents.

Different Types of Vital Documents

  • Vital documents are those that affect your patients’ benefits and coverage.
  • Vital standard documents are generic and contain no specific health plan participant information, such as applications and consent forms.
  • Vital non-standard documents are customer-specific and may contain personal health information, such as denial letters and explanations of benefits.

Eligibility for CALAP Services

All Cigna health plan participants who live in California are eligible for CALAP services, regardless of the Cigna product.

Using Interpreter Services

Eligible Cigna customers can obtain free interpreter services by phone, in any language.

Phone numbers can be found on:

  • Their ID card, or
  • The language assistance notice enclosed with vital documents they receive from us, such as explanation of benefits.
  • To access free interpreter services to support your Cigna non-English speaking patients, please call toll free at 1 (800) 806-2059.

Available Language Translations

Translations are available in Spanish and Traditional Chinese. These are threshold languages – primary languages of at least 3,000 beneficiaries or five percent of Cigna health plan participants in California – for which we must provide translations.

Obtaining Cigna Translated Documents

We will proactively send standard translated vital documents to those who have registered with Cigna indicating that their written language preference is Spanish or Traditional Chinese.

Individuals may register their written or spoken language preference, as well as their race or ethnicity, in two ways:

1. call the telephone number on their ID card, or
2. complete and send us the survey provided with their enrollment materials.

We will also translate vital non-standard documents into Spanish and Traditional Chinese upon request. Documents that are not considered vital will not be translated.

CALAP Key Requirements

Requirements for Health Care ProvidersRequirements for Cigna
1. Comply with Cigna's CALAP if your contract was issued, amended, delivered, or renewed on or after January 1, 2009. 1. Inform Cigna health plan participants that interpreter and translation services are available at no cost to them by including a language assistance notice, in 13 non-English languages, in all of their vital documents.
2. Call Cigna's toll-free number, 1 (800) 806-2059, for free interpreter services by telephone. Cigna does not delegate these services to health care providers. 2. Offer verbal interpretation services in any language at all Cigna and health care provider points of contact.
3. Discourage use of family and friends, especially minors, as interpreters. 3. Discourage use of family and friends, especially minors, as interpreters.
4. Document a patient’s refusal of interpreter services in his or her medical record. 4. Use qualified interpreters and bilingual staff who have been tested for proficiency and are knowledgeable about health care benefit terminology in non-English languages.
5. Advise your limited English proficient patients to call us for all translations of vital documents that affect their coverage. Cigna does not delegate translation services to health care providers. 5. Translate vital standard documents into Spanish and Traditional Chinese. Proactively send them to eligible health plan participants who have registered their written language preference as one of these languages.
6. Call Cigna Customer Service to request language preference information for your patient (optional). Their written language preference must be registered with Cigna for them to proactively receive vital standard translated documents in Spanish or Traditional Chinese. 6. Translate vital non-standard documents into Spanish and Traditional Chinese, upon the request of an eligible plan participant, and send the documents within 21 calendar days.
  7. Post translated standard vital documents on the Cigna website next to the English vital documents.
  8. Provide cultural competency and CALAP procedural training for all Cigna staff that routinely interact with CALAP-eligible customers.
  9. Collect and store health plan participants’ race and ethnicity information, as well as their preferred spoken and written languages, in a secure database to help ensure confidentiality.
  10. Assess customers’ demographics at least every three years to identify threshold languages.
  11. Keep a record of a customer’s refusal of interpreter services.
  12. Document, track, and trend complaints about the CALAP.
  13. Monitor compliance with the CALAP.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about the California Language Assistance Program, please call Cigna Customer Service at 1 (800) 88Cigna (1 (800) 882-4462). If you are calling about a patient with a GWH-Cigna ID card, please call 1 (866) 494-2111.

california language assistance program