Posted on February 4, 2013

HHS Says It Ditched ‘Exchanges’ Because Word Doesn’t Translate Into Spanish

Elise Viebeck, The Hill, January 31, 2013

The Obama administration has stopped using the term “exchanges” to describe part of the healthcare law because the word doesn’t translate into Spanish, an official said Thursday.

Anton Gunn, director of External Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said the rebranding of the insurance exchanges as “marketplaces” was geared toward Spanish speakers who will use the system.

“We’re going to use the word ‘marketplace’ because it actually makes sense to people,” Gunn said at a conference in Washington, D.C. “ ‘Exchange’ doesn’t translate to anything in Spanish, but ‘marketplace’ does.”

Effective language is vital to ensure that “the Affordable Care Act [is] real to people in this country,” Gunn said.

“We know that 12 million of the people eligible [for the law] speak Spanish, and one million more speak a language other than English or Spanish. These are the people we need to reach,” he said.

Earlier this month, HHS changed the way it refers to the healthcare law’s signature component: the one-stop markets where the uninsured can compare and buy healthcare coverage, sometimes using a federal subsidy.