In search of clarity
What does a Maryland insurer’s explanation of benefits have in common with Microsoft’s eye-glazing terms of service statement and an unintelligible “interpretative” explanation of a New Jersey ballot question? Bad writing, it turns out. All three were named finalists for the Center for Plain Language’s WonderMark Award, which, despite its upbeat-sounding name, is actually a tongue-in-cheek distinction that goes annually to organizations that publish awful or confusing prose. The other finalists for this year’s WonderMark were the Veterans Benefits Administration’s instructions for its myPay system, and the website Carseatsite.com, which publishes an instruction manual telling readers, “Read the instruction manual.”
But in a development likely to surprise no one who has ever received healthcare, the WonderMark award for most confusing language in 2010 went to an insurer. Namely, CareFirst Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland. Judges noted the CareFirst EOB form’s convoluted columns of code and numbers, including one marked “This is the amount provider can collect from you for these services” was especially perplexing in light of another sentence at the bottom of the third page: “This is not a bill.”
Outliers would like to note that CareFirst’s EOB is not unlike many others we’ve seen. So maybe the health insurance industry can consider it a group prize! Congratulations!