How to make health literacy work


Without health literacy, healthcare reform success may be difficult to achieve. Minneapolis-based UnitedHealthcare developed a "Happiness Counts" kit that informs seniors--via postcards, journals and other information--on how to best manage and take care of their health, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The insurer focuses on the importance of happiness, and how it improves a person's health. Chief Marketing Officer Terry Clark attributes UnitedHealth's success to the simplified language of materials, notes the Star Tribune.

Clear language is imperative, given that as of late last year, more than 60 percent of the target population for health insurance exchanges did not understand fundamental health insurance concepts, according to a previous Health Affairs study.

UnitedHealth's initiative to combat the pesky industry jargon and promote health literacy has been an ongoing venture. Using its own independent research, UnitedHealth determined consumers find the health insurance industry to be complex and complicated. "When we say simplify, we mean make [insurance] easy so that members can focus on their health and not the health insurance," Tom Paul, the insurer's chief consumer officer, previously told FierceHealthPayer.

With many options and choices for consumers under the healthcare reform law, more insurers are looking to boost health literacy. Last spring, Premera Blue Cross recognized that by providing easier-to-read explanation of benefits forms, equipped with full glossaries available electronically, members can better self-manage their chronic diseases, while the insurer ensures smooth care transitions and increases wellness and preventionFierceHealthPayer previously reported.

What's more, individuals with low rates of health literacy are more prone to higher hospitalization rates, healthcare costs, rates of drug errors and illness levels, according to Insurance News Net.

For more:
- read the Star Tribune article
- here's the Insurance News Net piece

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