The Case for Health LiteracyBy the NumbersBy the DollarsSources

The case for health literacy

“The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process,
and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate decisions.”*

  • Health literacy is the missing link in health care consumerism.
  • The advent of consumer-directed health care will require increased literacy for effective decision-making.

By the numbers

  • Nearly half of American adults- over 90 million people- have low health literacy.
  • 41% of large employers report that they will increase employee co-insurance in 2008.
  • Only 12% of adults have proficient health literacy.
  • Only 15% of patients receive adequate answers to their medical questions during medical encounters.
  • 60% of patients choose the wrong type of specialist because of inadequate understanding of their particular health issue resulting in higher health care costs.

By the Dollars

  • The financial impact of low health literacy is up to $58 billion annually.
  • The economic cost of nation’s health bill estimated to be over $73 billion annually due to low health literacy. (2001 study)
  • The cost of treatment of chronic diseases which decreases productivity and increase absenteeism is estimated to be $1 trillion a year.
  • Companies can realize $3-$6 in savings for each $1 invested in Wellness Promotion.