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Health insurance fine print: Legislature passes Plain Language in Insurance bill

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Last week, we told you about State Representative John Kefalas' bill to simplify the language in insurance policies, which requires, among other things, that policies be written at a tenth-grade reading level in no smaller than ten-point font -- an effort the democrat from Fort Collins says was a response to the thousands of calls the state's Division of Insurance receives from confused citizens every year.

Today, the Senate passed the bill, which will make its way to the governor's desk to be signed into law. Once that happens, the law will take effect in January 2012, and you'll find your intimidating policy literature just a little less intimidating.

"We're trying to empower people, consumers, to understand this stuff on your own," Kefalas said last week. "It seemed to make a lot of sense that, intuitively, people have a lot of difficulty understanding their insurance policies."

In 2008 alone, the Division of Insurance reports that it received 800 inquiries from Coloradans with concerns about their insurance policies. Kefalas hopes the effort will cut back on those calls, saving the state time and money. While the bill will cost insurance companies who will be required to rewrite policies, the bill is not expected to cost the state.

The state bill came on the wings of a contentious national health care reform effort by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats -- a year-long battle that made history with Obama's signing of bill last week amid criticism from Republicans.

While the bill echoes familiar sentiments among Democrats that health insurance should be at the fingertips of consumers, the bill aims to make not just health insurance policies less cumbersome, but also auto, dental and other long-term policies.

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