Obamacare’s Spanish Website Is Still Struggling With Poor Translations

• February 18, 2014 8:11 am


Riddled with errors and glitches since its launch, still continues to malfunction and make it difficult for Americans to enroll in the health insurance exchange. Spanish speaking Americans are stumped over incorrect translations on the Spanish version website of

WFTV Reporter Nancy Alvarez confronted Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the website problems during her visit to Orlando. Alvarez noticed incorrect translations and consulted with Mike Nieves, head of a local marketing firm that specializes in cutting through cultural barriers.

"Honestly, I was dumbfounded," Nieves told Alvarez. Incorrect translations make it difficult for Spanish speaking Americans to understand what they are enrolling in. calls a monthly premium, "prima," which actually translates to "female cousin" in Spanish. Another incorrect translation- "gastos de su bolsillo." intends for that phrase to mean "out of pocket costs," but it actually means "the cost of my pocket."

"My understanding is it’s a much better user experience now," Kathleen Sebelius told the crowd before her, speaking about the Spanish version website of

Sebelius said that a team of experts, not a computer, did the translations. Sebelius attempted to explain the incorrect translations, "Terminology in insurance is pretty arcane, even in English, and they probably didn’t have the smoothest translation into Spanish."

Still, Americans are fed up with excuses and dissatisfied with the failed translations. "At the end of the day, our goal is to communicate. There are no shortcuts. You have to understand your audience," Nieves told Alvarez.

Published under: Obamacare