Abbreviations, Acronyms and Initials

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1 Abbreviations, Acronyms and Initials

2 Abbreviations, Acronyms and Initials acronyms Use acronyms only when they make your writing easier for the reader to understand. It is usually acceptable to use acronyms on second reference, after the full name has been used on first reference. Examples: Use Louisiana Association of Business and Industry on first reference and LABI on second reference. Use Health savings account on first reference and HSA on second reference. administrator Never abbreviate. Capitalize only when used as a formal title before a name. BCBSLA Acceptable to abbreviate in all internal documents. Use sparingly on second reference in external documents for the benefit of the reader initials stop a reader s momentum. For the sake of consistency, never use BCBSL. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana In internal documents, it is acceptable to use BCBSLA, Blue Cross or the company on second reference. In documents that will be distributed outside the company, use Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana on first reference. Blue Cross is acceptable on any subsequent references. Also see the entry for HMO Louisiana, Inc. CMS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; the federal agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid. Acceptable in all internal documents and on second reference in external documents. CPT-4 CPT stands for Current Procedural Terminology the most widely accepted system of codes for medical procedures, used in claims and billing. CPT or CPT-4 is acceptable in internal documents and letters to providers. COBRA Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. COBRA is acceptable on all references. Coordination of Benefits COB is acceptable on second reference for internal documents. For external documents, spell out. CT scan Computerized tomography, a medical imaging process formerly known as a CAT scan. DOI Louisiana Department of Insurance. Acceptable in all internal documents and on second reference in external documents. Sometimes abbreviated as LDOI. DOS Date of Service. Acceptable internally on second reference. 5

3 eblue The company s secure online information portal for producers. EIM Enterprise Information Management, the formal name for our electronic system of processing producer commissions. EIM is acceptable on all references. EOB Explanation of Benefits. EOB is acceptable on second reference and in internal documents. eroc Nickname for the company s project to replace our core computer system (eroc is core spelled backward) with a new system (see Facets). Acceptable in internal documents only. Explanation of Benefits EOB is acceptable on internal documents and on second reference in external documents. Express Scripts, Inc. ESI is acceptable in internal documents and on second reference in any document. Facets The name of the new health plan administration software being implemented as our core computer system. Informally known as eroc. Federal Employee Program FEP is acceptable on internal documents and on second reference in any document. HMO Health Maintenance Organization. HMO is acceptable on all references. The plural form does not contain an apostrophe: e.g., HMOs. HMOLA An abbreviation for our wholly owned subsidiary, HMO Louisiana, Inc. HMO Louisiana is acceptable on second reference. HMOLA should only be used internally. HIPAA Health Information Portability and Accountability Act of HIPAA is acceptable on all references. Health Savings Account HSA is acceptable on second reference and on internal documents. ilinkblue The company s secure electronic portal for providers to use in submitting claims and requesting information. Louisiana Do not abbreviate Louisiana in text, except in a newsletter or press release. In newsletters and press releases, La. is the correct abbreviation. In mailing addresses, LA is the correct abbreviation. LTC Long-term care. Acceptable on second reference. 6

4 M.D./D.D.S. Abbreviations accepted. The periods are required. Other professional designations such as CPA (certified public accountant) and CLU (certified life underwriter) do not contain periods when they are used without other academic degrees. If used in conjunction with other academic degrees, they do contain periods. Examples: Gregory House, M.D., is a brilliant doctor. Richard Atkins, D.D.S., is a member of the Blue Cross Board of Directors. Our executive vice president is a CPA. This is a job for John Doe, M.D., C.P.A. OK Do not use okay. The variation OK d is acceptable, but try to avoid awkward forms like OK ing and OK s. Officers, Directors and Managers ODM is acceptable in internal documents. percent Do not use the percent sign (%) in text; use the word percent. The % sign is acceptable in charts. PHI Protected Health Information. PHI is acceptable on second reference. Plural form is PHIs (no apostrophe). POS Point of Service. POS is acceptable on second reference. For plural form, use POS plans instead of the awkward POSes. PPO Preferred Provider Organization. PPO is acceptable on all references. The plural form does not contain an apostrophe: e.g., PPOs. Schedule of Benefits SOB is acceptable on internal documents only. Spell out in external documents to avoid the double meaning of SOB. Another acceptable alternative is SB. Streets and addresses Abbreviate street designations only if used with a numeric address. Boulevard becomes Blvd., Street becomes St., Lane becomes Ln. Examples: North Boulevard 445 North Blvd. TEFRA A provision of the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 that allows states to extend Medicaid coverage to certain disabled children. TEFRA is acceptable on all references. TRICARE The health insurance program for members of the Uniformed Services and their families in the civilian community. (Replaced CHAMPUS in 1997.) 7

5 United States, U.S. Spell it out as a noun; abbreviate as an adjective. Examples: Sales in the United States have exceeded expectations. U.S. sales have exceeded expectations. URAC Utilization Review Accreditation Commission. URAC is acceptable on all references. VIP Variable Income Plan. VIP is acceptable on second reference and when used internally. 8

6 Capitalization

7 Capitalization Capitalize the name of a department and the word department e.g., Human Resources Department. The word Plan is capitalized when referring to one or more Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. Names of specific products are capitalized e.g., BlueMax policy, BlueChoice 65 policy. Medicare and Medicaid are always capitalized because they are the proper names of government programs. (The word supplement is not capitalized.) Capitalize titles when they come before a name, but not when they come after the name. Examples: John Smith, president and chief executive officer President and Chief Executive Officer John Smith Managed care terms such as primary care physician, point of service, etc. should not be capitalized. Initials should be capitalized (PCP, POS, HMO, etc.). See previous chapter for more on acronyms and initials. agent Lowercase. Board of Directors Capitalize when referring to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Board of Directors, but not when referring to the board of directors of any other company. Caesarean section preferred on all references. The alternative cesarean is acceptable but not preferred. Avoid the nickname C-section. District Office(s) Always capitalize when referring specifically to BCBSLA s District Offices. Also applies to Regional Offices. eblue The company s secure online information portal for producers. Lowercase e (unless it is the first word of a sentence: e.g., is the preferred method of communication ) eprescribing or eprescriptions program No hyphen. Lowercase e and capitalize the P. 11

8 eroc Nickname for the company s project to replace our core computer system with a new system (see Facets). Acceptable in internal documents only. Facets The name of the new health plan administration software being implemented as our core computer system. Informally known as eroc. federal Lowercase when used to distinguish something from city, state, national: e.g., federal assistance, federal jurisdiction. Words such as local, state and national should not be capitalized unless they are part of the official name of a program. ilinkblue The company s secure electronic portal for providers to use in submitting claims and requesting information. months Capitalize the names of months in all uses. The names of months should be spelled out when used alone or with a year only. They should be abbreviated when a date is given. Examples: January 2009 Jan. 21, 2009 Jan. 21 State Capitol Capitalize (and spell with an o ) only when referring to the building. Examples: Baton Rouge is the state capital. Our State Capitol was built by Huey Long. trueblue Note the lowercase t at the beginning of this product name. website Do not capitalize; one word; no hyphen. X-ray The X is always capitalized, and the word is hyphenated. Example: How much does the clinic charge for an X-ray? 12

9 General Usage

10 General Usage affect, effect Affect, used as a verb, means to influence. Example: The testing will affect his final grade. Note: Many writers use the word impact as a verb in place of affect, as in the sentence, The economy will impact our company. This is incorrect and should be avoided. It is correct to write, The economy will have an impact on our company or The economy will affect our company. Effect, used as a verb, means to cause. Example: He will effect many changes in the company. Effect, used as a noun, means result. Example: This law will have little effect. amid Not amidst. among, between Between introduces two items. Among introduces more than two. Examples: The candy was divided between Joe and Jim. The money was divided among the three students. Baton Rougeans residents of Baton Rouge. biweekly Means every other week. Semiweekly means twice a week. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Note the word and, which is always included when writing our company name in text. Blue Cross is acceptable on second reference. Board of Directors Capitalize when referring to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Board of Directors, but not when referring to the board of directors of any other company. 15

11 bullet points If bullet points complete a sentence, they should: begin with active verbs not be capitalized not use any punctuation at the end of the item, except for the last item, which should end with a period. If bullet points contain items that do not complete a sentence but simply serve as a list, they should not be capitalized or punctuated. Example: effective date of contract waiting periods pre-existing conditions patient s eligibility for benefits If each bullet point contains a complete sentence, each point should begin with a capital letter and end with a period: Example: These benefits have been terminated for the following reasons: The subscriber refused services. Benefits have been exhausted. Caesarean section preferred on all references. The alternative cesarean is acceptable but not preferred. Avoid the nickname C-section. capital, capitol The word capital when used in financial documents can mean money, but it is more commonly used to mean the principal city in a state. It does not have to be capitalized. Do capitalize (and spell with an o ) when referring to the building. Examples: Baton Rouge is the state capital. Our State Capitol was built by Huey Long. citywide Not hyphenated. currently, presently Should not be used interchangeably. Currently means right now, while presently means coming up next. It is not correct to say, He doesn t like his present job use current. Examples: We re currently on track to have a great year. We ll get to Chapter Two presently. dependent Used as a noun and adjective. Not dependant. 16

12 drugs Because the word drugs has come to be used in recent years as a synonym for narcotics, medicine, medications or prescriptions are preferred alternatives. Company style for abbreviating electronic mail. At the beginning of a sentence, capitalize the E only: e.g., . ensure, insure Use ensure to mean guarantee. Use insure for references to insurance. Examples: Steps were taken to ensure accuracy. The policy insures his life. entitled Refers to a right to do or have something. Do not use it to mean title or name of. Example: She was entitled to the benefits. fewer, less Use fewer when referring to individual items. Use less when referring to bulk or quantity. Examples: Humana has fewer members than Blue Cross. This brochure contains less information than that one. healthcare Always one word. home page See also website. impact See also affect, effect. When used as a verb, impact means to drive, collide with or pack in. Example: A vast crowd impacted St. Peter s Square. When used as a noun, impact means an effect or an influence. Example: The economy will have an impact on our company. liaison Commonly misspelled note the second i. long-term care Correct for general usage. In second reference, LTC is acceptable. Louisiana Do not abbreviate Louisiana in text, except in a newsletter or press release. In newsletters and press releases, La. is the correct abbreviation. In mailing addresses, LA is the correct abbreviation. 17

13 Louisianian(s) This is our company style for spelling the word for a resident of Louisiana. Although marked as incorrect by the spell check in Microsoft Word and Outlook, it is preferred over Louisianans. Medicare supplement policy Not supplemental. Supplement is not capitalized. midnight Stands alone when referring to time. Do not place a 12 in front of it. See also noon. more than See entry for over. nationwide Not hyphenated. nonprofit Not hyphenated; one word. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana should be described as a nonprofit, fully taxed mutual insurer which means the company is owned by our policyholders. noon Stands alone. Do not place a 12 in front of it. See also midnight. Examples: The movie starts at noon. The plane lands at 12 p.m. numerals Spell out numbers nine and below. Use the numeral for 10 and higher, except when used at the beginning of a sentence. Always use the numeral when referring to time of day, percentages, age and money. Examples: She has worked here two years. He has been here 11 years. She has a 2-year-old daughter. Meet us at 2 p.m. There will be a 2 percent discount on food and a 20 percent discount on clothing. OK Do not use okay. The variation OK d is acceptable, but try to avoid awkward forms like OK ing and OK s. over Refers to position or a spatial relationship. Over may be used with ages, as in She is over 30. But, it is strongly suggested that more than be used when referring to numbers. Examples: The plane flew over the house. We paid more than $200 for the plane tickets. Pap test Or Pap smear. Screening test for cervical cancer, named after its inventor, a doctor named Papanicolaou. Acceptable on all references. payor Preferred over payer, although both forms are considered acceptable. percent One word. Do not use the % symbol except in charts. per diem Two words. 18

14 refer, reference Use refer as a verb and reference as a noun. Examples: Tell the customer to refer to his contract. I m referring to page two in your booklet. The contract includes a reference to prescription drug coverage. state Do not capitalize state when used as an adjective to specify a level of jurisdiction, such as state Rep. Waddell or state funds. Lowercase in all state of constructions, such as the state of Louisiana or the states of Florida and Illinois. state of Louisiana statute of limitations statewide Not hyphenated. That, which Limit the use of the subordinating conjunction that. Often it is unnecessary; in the following sentence, that could be eliminated: He found it very difficult to admit that he was wrong. Many people are confused by how to use that vs. which, but the rule is actually simple: Use which plus commas to set off a nonrestrictive clause; that is, a clause that is not needed for the sentence to make sense. Use that (with no comma) to introduce a restrictive clause. Examples: Pizza, which is a favorite among Chicagoans, can be either bad for you or good, depending on how much of it you eat. (Remove which is a favorite and the sentence is still true.) Pizza that s less than an inch deep just isn t Chicago style. (Remove that s less than an inch deep, and the sentence no longer makes sense.) toward Not towards. vendor Not vender. website links When describing how to navigate to a specific page or area of our website, do not use any extra punctuation or emphasis. Capitalize words exactly as they are capitalized on the site itself. Examples: Visit and click on Community, then Angel Award. Login to AccessBlue, then click on Review claims. 19

15 Insurance and Internal Terms

16 Insurance and Internal Terms 2 Step 4 Kids The name of Blue Cross age-appropriate wellness website for children ages 5 to 12, located at See also Louisiana 2 Step. AccessBlue The company s secure, online self-service tool for customers, employers, providers and producers. Accidental Death & Dismemberment AD&D is acceptable on second reference and internal documents. Accidental Injury Endorsement AIE is acceptable on second reference and internal documents. Angel Award A signature program of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation, this annual program recognizes people who do outstanding volunteer work on behalf of Louisiana children. The registration mark ( ) is required in titles or headlines and on first reference in text. BlueCard The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association s program that allows members to take their benefits with them out of state and out of the country. The registration mark is required in titles or headlines and on first reference in text. BlueChoice 65 The name of our Medicare supplement product. Blue Cross (possessive) Form the possessive of Blue Cross by adding only an apostrophe, not an apostrophe plus s. BlueSelect The registration mark is required in titles or headlines and on first reference in text. copayment Not co-payment. Preferred over the abbreviation co-pay. dependent Used as a noun and adjective. Not dependant. District Office(s) Always capitalize when referring specifically to BCBSLA s District Offices. Also applies to Regional Offices. eblue The company s secure online information portal for producers. EIM Enterprise Incentive Management, the formal name for our electronic system of processing commissions. EIM is acceptable in all references. 29

17 eroc Nickname for the company s project to replace our core computer system with a new system (see Facets). Acceptable in internal documents only. Explanation of Benefits EOB is acceptable in internal documents. Express Scripts, Inc. ESI is acceptable in internal documents and on second reference in any document. Facets The name of the new health plan administration software being implemented as our core computer system. Informally known as eroc. Health Savings Account HSA is acceptable on second reference and in internal documents. HMOLA An abbreviation for our wholly owned subsidiary, HMO Louisiana, Inc. HMO Louisiana is acceptable on second reference. HMOLA should only be used internally. HMO POS An abbreviation for HMO Louisiana s POS (point of service) plan. HMO POS should only be used internally. For outside documents, use HMO Louisiana s POS plan. ilinkblue The company s secure electronic portal for providers to use in submitting claims and requesting information. long-term care Correct for general usage. LTC is acceptable in internal documents. long-term disability LTD is acceptable on second reference and in internal documents. Louisiana 2 Step The name of Blue Cross statewide wellness program and website located at See also 2 Step 4 Kids. Louisiana Health Service & Indemnity Company The official incorporated name of the company doing business as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. LHSIC is acceptable on second reference. Medicaid Medicare Medicare Part D The federal government s Medicare prescription drug coverage program. Blue Cross Medicare Part D product is called RxBLUE. 30

18 Medicare supplement policies Note that supplement is not capitalized. Do not use supplemental. MySmart$aver The name of the Bancorp Bank s health savings account (HSA) designed to go along with the BlueSaver high-deductible insurance plan. Note the dollar sign used in place of the second S in MySmart$aver. nonprofit Not hyphenated; one word. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana should be described as a nonprofit, fully taxed mutual insurer which means the company is owned by our policyholders. Officers, Directors and Managers ODM is acceptable for internal use. Officers, Directors, Managers and Supervisors ODMS is acceptable for internal use. our Medical Review staff Note capitalization. outpatient services No hyphen necessary. out-of-area benefits policyholder One word; no hyphen. pre-certification preferred provider preferred provider organization Also PPO. primary care physician Also PCP. primary insurance carrier s payment product names In general, product names are one word (there are exceptions), with any word other than Blue in italics. The following represents the correct spelling, punctuation and style for specific product names: AdvantageBlue BlueChoice 65 BlueChoice 65 Select BlueMax 31

19 BlueSaver BlueSelect the registration mark is required BlueSense BlueValue Cancer & Serious Disease Policy Employee s Choice GroupCare HMO Point of Service three words; no italics PremierBlue no italics RxBLUE trueblue Variable Income Plan (VIP) room and board No hyphens are required. short-term disability STD is acceptable on second reference. Smart Bodies A signature program of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation, this program to fight childhood obesity is coordinated by the LSU AgCenter. Two words. TRICARE The health insurance program for members of the Uniformed Services and their families in the civilian community. (Replaced CHAMPUS in 1997.) usual, customary and reasonable allowance (UCR) 32

20 Punctuation

21 Punctuation all- Use a hyphen. Examples: all-around (not all-round ) all-clear all-star anti- Hyphenate the following words. Many of the following are exceptions to Webster s New World Dictionary. anti-aircraft anti-bias anti-intellectual anti-labor anti-social anti-war Do not hyphenate the following words, which have specific meanings of their own: antibiotic antibody anticlimax antidote antigen antihistamine antimony antiseptic antiserum antithesis antitoxin antitrust antitussive brackets vs. parentheses When you are clarifying or explaining a phrase in a sentence by adding words, they belong in brackets [ ], not parentheses ( ). colon (:) Most frequently used at the end of a sentence to introduce lists, tables, bullet points, text and other items. When a colon is used within a sentence, the first word following the colon is lowercased unless it is a proper name. Example: The study involves three food types: cereals, fruits and fats. When a colon introduces two or more sentences, or when it introduces a speech in dialogue or an extract, the first word following the colon is capitalized. Example: Henrietta was faced with a choice: Should she reveal what was in the letter? Or should she remain silent? comma Used to separate items in a series. Do not, however, use a comma before a conjunction (and/but/or) in a simple series. Example: The American flag is red, white and blue. dis- In general, no hyphen is used. Examples: dismember dissemble disservice dissuade down- In general, no hyphen is used. Examples: downgrade downtown -down All nouns and/or adjectives. Examples: breakdown countdown (The countdown began shortly before midnight.) rundown sit-down (They hosted a sit-down dinner.) eprescribing or eprescriptions program No hyphen. 39

22 extra- Do not use a hyphen when extra means outside of, unless the prefix is followed by a word beginning with a capital letter or with the letter a. Examples: extralegal extramarital extraterrestrial extra-alimentary Follow extra- with a hyphen when it is part of a compound modifier describing a condition beyond the usual size, extent or degree: Examples: extra-base hit extra-dry drink extra-large bowl hyphen Used to avoid ambiguity. Hyphenate two or more words serving as a single adjective before a noun. Examples: continued-stay review 25-year-old woman first-place winner above-referenced claim long-term therapy toll-free hotline get-it-done attitude a two-and-a-half-hour trip But: We ll be there in two and a half hours Hyphenate words with the prefixes ex-, self- or all-. Do not hyphenate most words with the prefix re-. The hyphen should be used only when needed to separate two e s or to avoid confusion. Examples: resubmit reuse reintroduce re-elect re-cover (as in Re-cover the chair, to avoid confusion with the word recover, as in We believe the patient will recover. ) re-creation (as in We saw an excellent re-creation of The Last Supper, to avoid confusion with recreation, as in Bowling is my favorite form of recreation. ) Hyphenate words with the suffix -elect (e.g., president-elect). Hyphenate between a prefix and capitalized word (e.g., non-biblical). Hyphenate spelled-out fractions only when they are used to modify another word or phrase. Example: The council needed a two-thirds majority to pass the resolution. But: One fourth of all Louisianians have Blue Cross insurance. Hyphenate the following words: co-pay (but not copayment ) pre-admit pre-approve pre-authorization pre-certification pre-certify pre-establish pre-exempt pre-exist pre-pay well-being Do not hyphenate the following words: coinsurance copayment coworker healthcare inpatient managed care Medicare crossover claim outpatient policyholder preadmission prearranged preauthorized preclinical 40

23 Do not hyphenate the following words: (continued) preoperative prepaid prepayment preservice pretest Hyphenate words that express a unit or words used to avoid ambiguity. Examples: accident-related all-inclusive co-occurrence co-organizer co-owner cost-effective cost-efficiency cost-efficient in-house (e.g., Print jobs will now be handled in-house. ) hospital-based re-sign the claim (to distinguish from resign, as in He resigned from the Board of Directors. ) time-sensitive Do not use a hyphen to join an adverb ending in -ly to another word. Examples: a radically different approach quickly processed phone numbers Our company style is to separate phone numbers with periods. Examples: , BLUE (2583) policyholder No hyphen. quotation marks Use quotation marks for titles of articles in magazines, short stories and essays. Use italics for titles of periodicals, books, manuals and newspapers. Examples: I read an article in Insurance News Weekly called What Healthcare Reform Means to Our Industry. Did you see the article in the Advocate? quotation marks with other punctuation The ending period and comma always appear inside the quotation marks. Example: She said, Your coverage will take effect on Jan. 1. The ending colon and semi-colon appear outside the quotation marks. Example: I was asked to state my name and serial number ; I have no serial number. John said, I have three items: milk, eggs and cheese. The dash, question mark and exclamation mark appear in the quotation marks if they apply only to the quoted matter. Examples: He asked, Who is in charge? Did he say, So help me God? well-being Hyphen is preferred. who s and whose Who s is a contraction of who is. The word whose is a possessive pronoun. Examples: Can you tell me whose raincoat this is? It belongs to Dr. Atkins, who s a member of our Board of Directors. workers compensation not worker s compensation. Lowercase except when used as part of the proper name Louisiana Workers Compensation Commission. X-ray Always hyphenate X-ray and capitalize the X in all instances. 41

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