- Ben Fischer
- Email: email@example.com
Which form do you think is easier to understand: Tax instructions from the IRS or an explanation of benefits from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield?
The IRS instructions, by a long shot. So says the Center for Plain Language, a Silver Spring-based nonprofit dedicated to the cause of ridding the world of unnecessarily complicated legalese.
CareFirst won the center's 2011 WonderMark Award, given for the "least usable document." Specifically, the insurance company won for a standard explanation of benefits document sent to a Maryland customer.
Meanwhile, the IRS won the center's grand prize ClearMark Award, given to the forms and websites that best use plain language to communicate with users. Specifically, the center praised the IRS' easy-to-find instructions, "active voice," and effective use of the pronouns we and you to "clearly and personally identify the party who has the duty."
Though it doesn't dwell on CareFirst's shortcomings, the explanation of benefits displays none of those qualities.
A CareFirst spokesman has not yet returned an email seeking comment. In fairness, it's worth noting that some of the confusing language in the insurance document is required by Maryland law. So while not entirely blameless, CareFirst is just following orders from an equally confusing firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.258.0828.
In HealthCare the EOB is too often an oxymoron. Neither an explanation Nor a Benefit.
There is so much to be done in this space. We need to crowd source solutions since so many of use receive these currently useless documents.
Who do you think provides the best example of an Explanation of Benefits (EOB)?