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Don't speak health insurance? Aetna awarded for talking plain English Posted: May 9th, 2011

By Maryalene LaPonsie

For many consumers, purchasing health insurance means navigating a maze of industry terms including deductibles, co-insurance, in-network providers and preexisting conditions. In 2009, Aetna tried to make the task a little easier by introducing "David," a virtual online benefits advisor.

Today, David leads visitors to the Aetna website through a series of questions designed to help them identify the best health plans for their families. In recognition, the Center for Plain English has awarded Aetna with a ClearMark Award. Aetna is the first health insurance company to receive the honor, and 2011 represents the second year the center has recognized the company.

"People often ask if we can recommend a plan to them," said Aetna National Accounts head of innovation Mike Phillips in a statement. "David helps us do that. He's like a friendly, helpful neighbor. But he just happens to know an awful lot about health plan options."

David was created for Aetna by Jellyvision, the company responsible for computer games such as "You Don't Know Jack." Comments from the ClearMark Award judging panel mentioned the casual tone of the David virtual advisor, noting that the website was clever and the dialogue was friendly.