Linguistic Competence

Over 1.8 million individuals dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid speak a language other than English at home or do not speak English fluently.[1] Limited English Proficiency (LEP) is associated with lower quality of care and decreased access to health care services.[2],[3]

Linguistic competence refers to the ability of organizations to provide “readily available, culturally appropriate oral and written language services to LEP individuals through such means as bilingual/bicultural staff, trained medical interpreters, and qualified translators.”[4] Communicating with individuals in their preferred languages is an important part of person-centered care and key to ensuring beneficiaries have access to high quality health care services. These resources describe actionable strategies plans and providers can use to deliver linguistically competent services.

[1] Proctor, K., Wilson-Frederick, S. M., & Haffer, S. C. (2018). The Limited English Proficient Population: Describing Medicare, Medicaid, and Dual Beneficiaries. Health Equity, 2(1), 82-89. Retrieved from
[2] Ibid.
[3] Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Providing Language Services to Diverse Populations: Lessons from the Field. Retrieved from
[4] AHRQ. (2019). Planning Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services. Retrieved from