Clarify Language to Cut Costs

The Plain Language in Health Insurance Act, now in committee, would require the Federal government and private insurers to write all new documents in plain, easy-to-understand language.

Imagine being able to quickly comprehend benefit plan descriptions, drug formularies, explanations of benefits, enrollment forms and other documents. (Any clear description of the Medicare benefit donut hole defies imagination.)

Similar plain-language legislation was proposed in 2007 to cover documents issued by all government agencies. The House passed it. But the Senate never took action.

The Federal Plain Language Guidelines encourages use of simple words, short sentences and paragraphs, and pronouns (such as "you") that speak directly to readers. It discourages legal, foreign and technical jargon, as well as double negatives. (Examples at

Count me in for "language reform." Eliminating bombast and double-talk from health insurance would improve health care immensely. If only we could do the same with the health-care debate.

— Tom DeSanto


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