Language assistance program

Get the interpretation services your patients need for clear communication.

We want our patients to feel comfortable and clearly understand every aspect of their care. That’s why we provide free interpreter and translation services for all Sharp Health Plan patients.

Member services

Contracted providers are required under California law to cooperate and comply with Sharp Health Plan’s Language Assistance Program (LAP). There are several services available, created to help members with limited English proficiency (LEP):

  • Linguistic matching
  • 24-hour interpreter access
  • Translation of written materials
  • Informational notices

Linguistic matching

If a patient doesn’t choose a primary care physician, Sharp Health Plan will automatically assign a doctor. We make sure the doctor is nearby and speaks the patient’s preferred language.

How to request an interpreter

Email or call Customer Care at 1-858-499-8300 at least three days before an appointment to request a foreign language or sign language interpreter. See below for details.

24-hour interpreter access

Sharp Health Plan provides free interpreter services at scheduled appointments for LEP, deaf and hard-of-hearing patients. You or your patient can request an interpreter by calling Customer Care at 1-858-499-8300 or toll-free at 1-800-359-2002. Please have the following information available:

  • Patient’s Sharp Health Plan member ID number, age, and sex, as well as preferred language and country of origin for LEP patients
  • Provider appointment date and time, office location, physician phone number and appointment type

Please contact Customer Care at least three days before the appointment to request an interpreter. In the event an interpreter is not available for face-to-face services, over-the-phone translation can be provided. Unfortunately, some languages may not be available, even with advanced notice.

Translation of written materials

Written information, including the Member Handbook, form letters and medical care reminders, are translated into Spanish and other languages upon request at no cost to the patient. Let your patients know they have this option, and can make requests by calling Customer Care at 1-858-499-8300 or toll-free at 1-800-359-2002.

Translating informational notices

In addition to Sharp Health Plan materials, LEP patients can get informational notices from the Department of Managed Health Care translated into their preferred language. These notices help them understand how to:

  • Contact Sharp Health Plan
  • File a complaint
  • Get assistance from the Department of Managed Health Care
  • Seek an independent medical review

Download or print these informational notices from the Department of Managed Health Care website. If they want printed copies, they can submit a request in writing:

Department of Managed Health Care
Attention: HMO Help Notices
980 9th St Suite 500
Sacramento CA 95814

Provider responsibilities

As a provider, it’s your responsibility to provide LEP patients access to covered benefits. In order to comply with federal and state requirements regarding cultural and linguistic services, you need to provide the same quality services to all members. It is not permissible to turn a patient away or limit participation because of language barriers; to subject a patient to unreasonable delays due to language barriers; nor to provide services to LEP patients that are lower in quality than those offered in English.

Here are some tips to help facilitate effective communication with limited English proficiency patients:

  • Call Sharp Health Plan if you need help in providing language assistance services (interpretation, translated documents, etc.) for any of your Sharp Health Plan patients.
  • Document language preferences in patients' medical charts.
  • Inform patients of their right to interpreter services, at no cost, even when they are accompanied by a family member or friend who can provide interpretation services. Remember, a patient should never be required to bring his or her own interpreter, and a patient’s family members should not be encouraged to serve as interpreters. In addition, minors should not be used as interpreters.
  • Document all interpreter requests and refusals in patients’ medical charts.
  • Inform patients that they may call Sharp Health Plan to request translated documents at no cost them, and to note their preferred language for future communications.
  • Post signs in appropriate languages informing patients of the availability of free interpreter services.
  • Prior to meeting with a patient, look to see if their language preferences have been documented in their file.
  • Provide periodic training to office staff on cultural competency and use of interpreters.
  • To provide timely access to care, arrange for interpreting services at the time appointments are made.
  • To find additional information and resources on serving patients with limited English proficiency, contact Sharp Health Plan Provider Relations by phone at 1-858-499-8330 or by email at