© Ugur Akinci
First off, please read the following description of “Primary Care Health Program” and see if you can understand anything:
“The following rules determine which is the “primary” program:
a) If the other program is not primarily a dental program, this program is primary.
b) If the other program is a dental program, the following rules are applied:
1. The program covering the patient as an employee or group member is primary over a program covering the patient as a dependent.
2. The plan covering the patient as a dependent child of a person whose date of birth occurs earlier in the calendar year shall be primary over the plan covering the patient as a dependent of a person whose date of birth occurs later in the calendar year provided. However, in the case of a dependent child of legally separated or divorced parents, the plan covering the patient as a dependent of the parent with legal custody, or as a dependent of the custodial parent’s spouse (i.e. step-parent) shall be primary over the plan covering the patient as a dependent of the parent without legal custody. If there is a court decree which would otherwise establish financial responsibility for the health care expenses with respect to the child, the benefits of a plan which covers the child as a dependent of the parent with such financial responsibility shall be determined before the benefits of any other policy which covers the child as a dependent child.
c) If neither (a) nor (b) applies, the program that has covered the patient longer is primary, except that a plan covering the patient as a laid-off or retired employee or the dependent of a laid-off or retired employee shall be determined after those of a plan covering the patient as an employee or the dependent of an employee. However, if the other plan does not have a provision similar to this provision, then this exception shall not apply.”
I personally had great difficulty in keeping track of what’s been said starting off with the first paragraph. Then I’ve learned that the Flesch-Kincaid readability test rates this text as a Graduate School Level text. That is, you need to have about 20 years of formal education under your belt to understand it. No wonder it comes across as mumbo jumbo.
This is bad for the consumers who end up signing health insurance policies that they can’t even understand but good news for technical writers who know (or should know) how to write things in Plain English.
This is such a fast-emerging writing niche at the intersection of medical writing, on the one hand, and technical writing on the other
If you can take complex and badly-written medical and legal documents like the above and re-write them in a simple-enough manner you should be able to find assignments with a little marketing.
Your best friend in that effort would be the recent social wave in favor of Plain English, backed up by some clear legislation at the state and federal level in the United States.
Rhode Island, for example, passed a law in 2009 requiring all similar insurance document be written in a manner that even a person with only eighth-grade education can understand. ()
At the federal level, President Obama signed a law into effect on October 13, 2010 requiring all federal department and agencies take immediate steps to re-write their documents in Plain English.
That’s why if I were a young technical writer today starting out my career in the United States, I’d definitely study the Plain English niche as one possible source of specialization.
I’d also go ahead and say that even if you live in another country I’d recommend you to do the same since this is an issue that all bureaucracies suffer from, regardless of the country and cultural context. Wherever you live, “Plain Writing” I think is a job that just sits there, waiting for a technical writer like you to handle it for fun and profit.
Also see: Plain Writing Online Video Course