What is Health Literacy?
Why is Health Literacy Important?
It is estimated that nearly half of American adults, 90 million people, have only basic or below-basic health literacy skills and have difficulty understanding and acting on health information. Persons with limited health literacy skills have higher utilization of treatment services including hospitalization and emergency services and lower utilization of preventive services. They incur medical expenses that are up to four times greater than patients with adequate health literacy skills. The estimated added annual cost to the health care system due to low health literacy is $106-$238 billion. People from all ages, races, income levels and education levels are challenged by this problem. For these reasons and many others, Ohio Health Literacy Partners (OHLP) was created.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, Title V, defines health literacy as the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions. This is also the definition that was included in Healthy People 2010 and 2020.
Healthy People 2030 addresses both personal health literacy and organizational health literacy and provides the following definitions:
The new definitions:
See article “Healthy People 2030 Health Literacy Definition Tells Organizations: Make Information and Services Easy to Find, Understand, and Use” at: