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Hispanic couple and baby in home office

Patefacio adscriptionem est maxime stressful anno gesta. Expectatur legere me ut auxiliemini mihi materiae ignoro verbis summa rerum facere quod ego faxo recte semper timet. Patefacio adscriptionem est stressful in hoc, quod ego magis verisimile habere radix canalis ad bona consilia.

Unless you took four years of Latin, you probably have no idea what that says. In general, what is says is that open enrollment is confusing and, therefore, stressful because most people don’t understand their benefits materials. For them, they might as well be asked to read Latin. (For those who are more literal in nature, a complete translation can be found at the end of this post.)

It’s no wonder employees are confused. Typical benefits materials toss around terms like “ancillary provider,” “formulary,” “member liability,” “telephonically” and “utilize.” Real people don’t use words like that, and neither should we, as benefits communicators.

Sure, we have important benefits concepts to communicate and there are industry-standard terms for communicating them. But think about it: our target audience is not industry standard. Mostly, they’re regular people in all kinds of jobs that aren’t related to insurance. And even those who do know something about health insurance can get confused by some of the jargon.

“  What would the world be like if we, as communicators, made a pact to only use clear, simple terms?”

 What would the world be like if we, as communicators, made a pact to only use clear, simple terms? For example, what if:

• “Ancillary provider” became “dentist,” “lab,” “pharmacy” or whatever you’re referring to
• “Formulary” became “drug list”
• “Member liability” became “the amount you will pay”
• “Telephonically” became “by phone”
• “Utilize” became “use”

We can’t avoid all industry terms, to be sure, but we can minimize our use and start thinking more like our target audience and their need for plain, straightforward explanations. And we can agree that when it comes to words, bigger is not always better.

Translation: Open enrollment is one of the most stressful events of the year. I’m expected to read materials that use words I do not understand to help me make important decisions that I’m always afraid I’ll make incorrectly. Open enrollment is so stressful, in fact, that I’d probably rather have a root canal to make benefits decisions.