This blog shares some of our thoughts about plain language, and the latest discussions about plain English and clear design in New Zealand, and around the world.

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17 February 2012

Healthcare consumers in the US have a new plain language friend--section 2715

Section 2715 is a new rule about clarity in health insurance documents. The new rule will make it easier for 150 million Americans to understand the information and choose a healthcare plan.

The US Government released the new rule on 9 February 2012 under section 2715 of the Public Health Service Act, and the Affordable Care Act, as part of reforming the health system.
The new rule says that all insurance companies must provide a ‘short, easy-to-understand Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC)’ and a ‘Uniform Glossary’, a glossary of terms commonly used in health insurance policies and plans.

Using plain language is only part of making documents easy to read. Other key words in the new rule are ‘concise’, ‘simple’, ‘consistent information’, and ‘consumer testing’.

The Government developed the SBC and glossary after working with insurance and health people. Then testing the SBC and glossary in two rounds of consumer testing provided an opportunity to gather data on the readability of the documents.  All parties, the Government and insurance companies, will be able to measure the difference they make to healthcare processes and services. In Write’s experience, clear documents can save millions of dollars.

Follow this link to read what the insurance documents will be like after 23 September.

In New Zealand, several insurance companies were early adopters of plain language and document clarity, and many continue to work with us to ensure that their documents are easy to read. Have a look at our WriteMark website to see who has achieved recognition for their clear documents.

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