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Cultural competency

When we think of culture, we might first think of race or ethnicity. But culture means much more than that. 

How culture and competency work together

How culture and competency work together

Racial, ethnic, religious and social groups have diverse:


  • Actions
  • Beliefs
  • Communications
  • Customs
  • Institutions
  • Languages
  • Thoughts
  • Values

A person’s culture includes all these things. Having competency means that we can function effectively in the context of these diverse cultural factors that our members and their communities represent. The goals of cultural competency? Increase the quality of services, reduce health care disparities and improve health outcomes.

Help us create a culture of caring

Help us create a culture of caring

Culture is a major factor in how people respond to health services, experience illness, access care and approach getting well. Patient satisfaction and positive health outcomes are linked to good communication between members and providers. A culturally competent provider effectively:


  • Communicates with patients
  • Understands their concerns
  • Ensures they understand their plan of care 

Standards for culturally and linguistically appropriate services

Standards for culturally and linguistically appropriate services

Help us ensure that members receive covered services without concern for:


  • Age
  • Ability to pay
  • Ability to speak English
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Genetic information
  • Medical history
  • Mental or physical disability
  • National origin
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation 

Participating providers treat all members with dignity and respect, as required by federal law. This includes:


  • Honoring members’ beliefs
  • Being sensitive to cultural diversity
  • Fostering respect for members’ cultural backgrounds

Learn more at provider orientation

Are you a newly contracted provider with Aetna Better Health® of California? If yes, then you and your staff are invited to join us for a provider orientation. This is an important training session about our programs and services.


You’ll need to complete orientation before providing services to our members. All our orientations take place within 10 days of becoming active in our database. We’ll have more to share about cultural competency during the training.

Would you like to schedule your provider orientation or ask a question? We’re here for you

You can call Provider Services:


1-855-772-9076 (TTY: 711)

Monday–Friday, 8 AM–5 PM

Check these online resources

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health offers resources, including an online e-learning series with modules for providers.


The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) offers two guides for defining cultural needs in managed care and creating services for them:



The Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit is a free set of tools to help primary care practices improve interactions between patients and staff.


The HHS Office of Minority Health has e-learning programs, toolkits and other resources related to cultural and linguistic competency.


The Industry Collaborative Effort (ICE) offers a provider toolkit and other resources to educate providers.


These language proficiency assessment resources (PDF) offer services to help your practice identify, prepare and train your bilingual and multilingual staff. 


This guidance can help you comply with new interpreter quality standards requirements (PDF) for the use of bilingual and multilingual staff as interpreters.


This communications toolkit (PDF) can help you remain compliant with the National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Service Standards and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.


ICE offers Better Communication, Better Care: Provider Tools to Care for Diverse Populations (PDF).

Also of interest: