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.


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  • GB101

    “Intercambio” es el palabra en espanol para el palabra ingles “exchange.”

    • Luca

      Yes, but you’re forgetting that HHS and the Obama administration is appealing to illiterate peasants who are not sophisticated enough to understand proper Spanish or English.

      In the near future, we will have voting booths with the candidate’s picture on it and an arrow pointing to the lever. But only for the Democratic candidates.

      • Bill

        Whom do you think Obama was talking about when he spoke of the millions of “citizens” who don’t have health insurance? He was talking about the mestizos who use the ER’s as their primary care physician and then stiff the hospitals. Now, rather than bankrupt local hospitals where they (they mistizos) are found in great numbers, they can bankrupt the entire nation. And they will. The important thing though, in liberal and Obama’s mind, is that they will vote Democrat no matter how much McCain and the GOP Treason Lobby try to kiss up to them.

    • The__Bobster

      Right, like the invaders don’t have places where these can exchange their dollars for pesos.

      • MikeofAges

        If you have lived in California and done business there, eventually you realize that there are many people who cannot communicate very well in any language, even their native one. Someone with a quick mind can learn to communicate in a new language pretty darn fast, really.

    • MarcusTrajanus

      I was going to say that.

    • generalquagmyer

      Just for the record, it’s “la” palabra, and I too immediately wondered why “intercambio” wouldn’t suffice. Perhaps too abstract a concept for monolingual double-digit IQ minds.

      • GB101

        I thought “palabra” was one of those odd words that looks feminine but is actually masculine. LIke “el dia.” Should have looked it up. Gracias.

      • Tom_in_Miami

        “Intercambio” to these gringo ears nails the concept better than “market.” I should know, check out my name.

  • MikeS

    The word “assimilate” must not translate either.

    • Shattered

      The only two words I’ve found they understand are “mortida” and “la raza.”

  • JackKrak

    So we’re not even going through the motions of even pretending that we expect Luis and his six kids to learn the language anymore?
    Good to know.

    • Anglokraut

      Really it is, because it restores the proper separation of the nations.

  • Pelagian

    Next, the whole New York Stock Exchange will be “rayciss”.

  • WmarkW

    No wonder the inventive capitalist spirit never caught on in Latin America.

  • Unperson

    “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.

    No, these are the people who need to learn English.
    Or, better yet, go back where they came from.

    • liberalsuck

      Of course, the white taxpayer derives no benefit from having these freeloading parasites here.

  • bigone4u

    Oh, the horrible racist burden of immigrants having to learn even one word of English. The federal government mires itself deeper into insanity with each passing day.

  • MekongDelta69

    Did HHS also ditch redistribution of wealth too?

    Just wondering…

    • Tom_in_Miami

      They ditched the phrase but not the concept.

  • Turns out Joe Wilson was right after all.

    I wonder what “You Lie!” is in Spanish.

    • RisingReich

      I think it’s “usted mientes” or ‘tu mientes’

      • I think it’s “usted miente”. Third person is used with usted.

      • Pelayo

        íBien dicho! Rising. I’m not trying to be pedantic but there’s one small correction. With usted, the “s” comes off the verb because it’s 3rd Person sing. Tú mientes ,2nd Person Sing familiar form however, IS correct.

        The solution to the problem is that if a person wants to make America his home he/she should learn freakin’ English. I love Spanish but here in the US it is and always should be a “foreign” language. This so called “government”, I personally prefer “regime”, should not cater to everyone. I can imagine moving to Poland or the Ukraine and demanding the everything be translated into English. I didn’t mention the Western European countries because I have reasonable certainty that they’re bending over backwards to accommodate the invaders just as we are. It’s as though we’re prepaying our collective funeral.

    • Tom_in_Miami

      Tu dices mentira.

  • Joseph

    No equivalent word? Oh well, too bad; I guess you are just ineligible for the program because of the deficiencies of the language you speak.


  • Kaffirsmasher

    Not that I care, but I’m pretty 100% sure “exchanges” IS translatable into Spanish.

  • If congress would man up and do its job and deported the illegals, there’d be almost no need to translate it into Mexican.

  • Topper

    HHS knows as much about Spanish as it does string theory.

    How about “intercambio”?

    Como se dice “exchanges” en Español?

    • Jane Lek

      Yes, the verb is intercambiar and the noun is intercambio. Why the hell do we worry about this anyway? Anyone who cannot read and speak English in America could at the very least get a dictionary and look up exchange if they do not know what it means. I am so sick of seeing my tax dollars spent to translate our documents into foreign languages.

      • Daisy

        All over NJ stores, street signs, recorded telephone programs and messages are translated into spanish. I’m torn because I was totally proficient in spanish at a time and can still sound almost fluent. If I brushed up at it my employment opportunities would broaden, especially as I excel at accents and intonation. Hispanics ask me why I sound ‘como nosotros’ or ‘like us’ and some who don’t know english that well insist on speaking only in spanish with me. For a long time I’ve wanted to study german or polish or even irish/gaelic, but there’s no living in mastering any of those.

        • Tom_in_Miami

          Try speaking Cuban sometime, but never use the word “papaya” (like the fruit). You have to say “fruta bomba.” Papaya means pudenda.

    • Strider73

      Apparently no one at HHS has sufficient mental capacity to access Google Translate.

  • Jane Lek

    Upon further reflection, I think I understand what is going on. Most of the folks who come from Mexico are uneducated, and a five-syllable word like intercambio is not part of their vocabulary. Give me (dame) is more their speed.

    • Pelayo

      LOL!! You’re right. It’s hard to communicate with Mexicans because it seems that every third word has an obscene connotation. One of the works for “cake” in Spanish can’t be used in Mexico without an explosion of guffaws. I guess it’s that way everywhere though. Acquaintances of mine told us of an incident when they were in Australia helping with the opening of a Casino and where invited to dinner at the home of the CEO of said Casino. During the dinner, our friend’s wife was asked by the Australian host of she would like another helping to which she replied “Oh no thank you. It was delicious but I’m stuffed”. The Australians were practically falling out of their chairs laughing. Apparently the word “stuff” is a substitute for the “f word”.

    • Tom_in_Miami

      Dame eso = gibsmedat

  • MikeofAges

    I never thought the word “exchanges” translated into English very well either. The term originated in the “Hillarycare” proposal of the early 1990s. I think it means the same thing thing as “market”. Honestly, if Spanish is your native language and you don’t know the word “mercado”, well, maybe you should be cutting asparagus.

  • kjh64

    ““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.”
    You mean the 36 million people eligble who speak Spanish.

  • TheTRUTH

    It’s the catering that has helped destroy this country. No other ethnic group has been catered to in the past. This forced them to assimilate, thereby HELPING groups to quickly improve themselves in a country which offers the most to those who EARN IT. I think back to the influx of Indians during the 80s. Their language was not catered to. Their language and clothes were made fun of. You know, the typical stuff new immigrants have to go through. Look at them now, as a whole. In fact, look at ANY immigrant group as a whole. They’re all doing just fine and they were not catered to.

    • Tom_in_Miami

      Think of the poor Germans. Condemned to fall further ahead every year.

  • saxonsun

    A serious question. Do you think we will ever declare English the official language of this country?

  • SintiriNikos

    The phrases ‘peaceful coexistence with your white and black hosts’ and ‘proud to be an American’ are not in the Mexican dictionary either.

  • StillModerated

    A few years ago I had to go to traffic court in Manassas VA (yes, the place where Rebels sent the Yankees packing twice). The court clientele was 80% foreign, but Prince William County generously provided Spanish interpreters. Why do I mention this? Because Spanish is a second language for these campesinos, English is their third language. Now when HHS and other useless federally-employed loafers get wind of this revelation they’ll demand that perps nabbed here to be tried in Quechua and Aztec.


    I came from a So. Cal. city that was over 50% Hispanic. A local minority activist wrote to the newspaper to complain that the high school student handbook version in Spanish used “batería” for “battery” when discussing “assault and battery”. “Batería” is what you put in a flashlight; “agresión” is closer to the English. Looks like someone got an English to Spanish dictionary and translated straight across word for word.