How well do your employees really understand their health plan? Do you know the readability score of the materials you provide them? How much jargon is included in your summary plan descriptions? How do you educate new grads entering the workforce and individuals working in the U.S. for the first time on the intricacies of health insurance? Is it even an employer's responsibility to improve health literacy?

ERISA says that SPDs should be written in plain English so that the average participant can understand them. But according to a 2004 report by the Institute of Medicine, most employer- provided information about health insurance is too complex. Many employers tend to rely on the SPDs or certificate of coverage that are provided by their insurance carrier. Have you ever read one from cover to cover? They're often difficult for a benefits professional to understand! Even worse, I've periodically gone back to the insurance carrier to request clarification on a specific clause only to find that they are unsure of the meaning.

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