October marks health literacy month – the perfect time for companies and employees to promote the importance of understanding health information and the benefits this understanding can result in. With health care costs continuing to rise year after year, taking responsibility for your medical choices becomes more important than ever.
- More than 1 in 3 Americans have difficulty with common health tasks.
- Low health literacy is estimated to cost the United States $106 billion to $238 billion annually and accounts for 7 to 17 percent of all personal health care expenditures.
- Health care costs continue to rise with a 6.8% increase in 2015, 6.5% rise in 2016, and another 6.5% rise projected for 2017.
Health.gov defines health literacy as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.Health literacy affects people’s ability to:
- Navigate the healthcare system effectively, including complicated forms and locating the right providers and services
- Share personal information, such as health history, with providers
- Engage in self-care and chronic-disease management
According to data from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, about 41 percent of adult Americans have less than adequate health care skills. So, what can consumers do to take a step in the right direction and begin understand health care information?
- Ask Questions – Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor and nurses questions and be sure you receive the answer you are looking for. If you do not understand or need further clarification, ask your doctor or nurse to help you understand the answers given. A good way to check your understanding is to repeat information back to the doctor or nurse in your own words and make sure everybody is on the same page.
- Read Newsletters – At WeAreWellness, we can offer you a library of resources on health literacy and give you the information needed to become a smart healthcare consumer. Feel free to contact us and get started for free today – sample resources include “How to be a wise health care consumer” and “25 ways to reduce your healthcare costs”
- Select Healthcare Providers Carefully – You should research the doctors you are planning to see and see which physicians are in-network as well as what criteria they have that matches what you are looking for. Aim to get recommendations from family and friends. You can ask questions that are important to you like “what are the office hours?” or “how long does it take and how easy is it to book an appointment?”
- Know your health plan benefits – Do you know what your co-insurance, deductible, and maximum out-of-pocket are for your health plan? Learn the basics about your health plan so you can use these options effectively!
The time is now to become a smarter healthcare consumer. Whether you are looking for an engagement solution to get your employees started on improved health literacy or a monthly newsletter to send out and remind about important and timely pieces, WeAreWellness has you covered – Contact Us Today!