I have seven more days to sign up for 2010 health benefits at work. I’ve been putting off this very big responsibility because I’m not in the mood to decode legalese.
While poring over 50-page Summary Plan Descriptions for each option, comparing the costs versus benefits, I stopped to surmise, “This is outrageous.”
Then one of my coworkers came to my aid. She told me that once upon a time, before our company lost its identity due to mergers and acquisitions, she was charged with taking the HR benefits documents and simplifying them with the use of plain English for the masses to understand. What a concept!
Toward the end of our session, my coworker had summarized scores of pages in less than 10 bullet points. She is a god.
So it got me thinking: Why must our corporations, our courts and our congress — entities that essentially serve the people — communicate to us in Pig Latin? Pages and pages of Pig Latin! Case in point: the House of Representatives’ version of the health care reform bill, which comes in at 1,990 pages and includes paragraphs like this one, according to Poltico.com:
â€ś(a) Outpatient Hospitals â€“ (1) In General â€“ Section 1833(t)(3)(C)(iv) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395(t)(3)(C)(iv)) is amended â€“ (A) in the first sentence â€“ (i) by inserting â€ś(which is subject to the productivity adjustment described in subclause (II) of such section)â€ť after â€ś1886(b)(3)(B)(iii); and (ii) by inserting â€ś(but not below 0)â€ť after â€średucedâ€ť; and (B) in the second sentence, by inserting â€śand which is subject, beginning with 2010 to the productivity adjustment described in section 1886(b)(3)(B)(iii)(II)â€ť.
What. The. Fuck. This kind of shit infuriates me. It’s inexplicable and oppressive. It makes me almost thankful that my benefits materials are as coherent as they are.
But the fact still remains that policies and laws that affect laymen are rarely communicated in laymen’s terms. Which makes for more blind, deaf and dumb Americans than we’d ever imagine.