With the collapse of many of our most established and corrupt financial institutions, it's no wonder that many of us find ourselves asking, "How do I know that these established and corrupt institutions are really using my benefit contributions to give my family the security it needs? Also, how much can I lie about my health (weight, blood pressure, alcohol consumption, etc.) so they’ll give me oodles of coverage without a pesky physical exam?"
Just kidding. Honesty is the best policy (wink, wink). Seriously though, do you really understand the terms of the investment and insurance policies that you pour money into week after week? Remember, these terms were written by lawyers, accountants and insurance salesmen — masters of obfuscation, circumlocution and meandering phraseology. So, to help you through the maze, the Odd Parity research team has come up with a handy glossary of benefits terminology.
401K: This plan lets you put aside a certain portion of your salary (approximately 38.2% of pi) into an account that you can’t touch until you're too old to remember what money is. There are certain circumstances (called hardships) under which you can make withdrawals from your 401K. Unfortunately, the government must penalize you for having these hardships by taking all of your money. They will, however, give you an electric blanket or a nice toaster oven — depending on what the most recently collapsed lending institution was giving out when it bit the dust.
Premium: Though this word is often used with the words "ice cream" or "beer," the insurance industry has twisted it to mean the amount that we (the insured) pay them (the insurer) to take our money (dough) and invest it wisely (villas in St. Tropez) until we need it to pay our hospital or funeral bills.
Claim: After the insured has an accident, it’s time for he/she to make a claim. The insurance company will claim that you're a hypochondriac, while you will claim that you have certificates from actual doctors to prove that you shattered your knee playing racquetball. The insurance company will counterclaim that you filled out the wrong form, and in any case they (the insurer) were in St. Tropez at the time and aren’t responsible for silly adolescent behavior that forces out of shape adults to slam themselves into concrete walls in pursuit of a little rubber ball.
Insurance Form: The basic idea behind an insurance form is to get the insured to write his or her name upwards of twenty times on the same piece of paper. There will be many little boxes on the insurance form that say, "Employee name:...", "Insured's name:...", "Your name here:...", "Come again on the name part?" and so on. There will also be a box, about one inch long, where the insured is to write the day, time and place of the accident, including what the insured was wearing, the insured's astrological sign and what the insured would like for supper.
Dismemberment: This part of the benefits book is so absolutely horrible to think about that no one ever looks at it. Usually it’s set up to look like a ghoulish menu with columns that read: "One hand and one foot....$5,000", "One foot and one eye...$10,000", "I'll see your foot and raise you two eyes....$15,000." Take our advice, don't read this part of the book — it’ll give you bad dreams.
Illness: This term includes, but is not limited to, any number of rare diseases or conditions that no one ever gets. These might include ostrich flu, tortoise shell rash and eastern equine whinnying compulsion. As a general rule of thumb, use the guidelines set out by the National Organization of Insurers, Statisticians and Elaborators (NOISE) — If you got it, we probably no longer cover it."
Dental Services: This category applies to all routine maintenance, illnesses, surgical procedures or appliances as long as they have nothing whatsoever to do with teeth.
Beneficiary: The party or parties to which your hard-earned policy dividends will go. In descending order of importance the beneficiaries are: 1) the board of directors at the insurance company, 2) their families, 3) the domestic staff at St. Tropez, 4) their families, 5) the annual insurance company barbecue in Hartford, Connecticut, 6) your loved ones.
Well, that’s about all you need to know about benefits. Just remember, in these uncertain times, it’s best to make sure that you have the coverage you need and deserve. At least you’ll have it until the CEO of your company needs to redecorate the executive bathroom. Then, unfortunately, you’re as necessary as a bathtub ring and about as covered as a tasty hatchling in a 'gator farm.
By Mike Donlin.
Mike does technical, marketing and creative wriiting for The Write Solution, his freelance business. He can help your company wend its way through the vagaries of the English language, and prides himself on his intimate knowledge of gerunds, semicolons and dipthongs. If you'd like Mike to pen a tome on a timely technical topic, you can reach him at email@example.com or 603-889-4955.